Monday, September 8, 2008

Media Meets Ministry

A new layer has been added to my life. I have joined the Facebook generation. It was at my sister's urging that I do this as a way to keep in touch with family and friends. So, I now have a profile and all that stuff. I must be careful not to spend too much time.

Today I was reading the Pastor's Edition of On Mission magazine. I found an interesting and timely article entitled "Facebook for Pastors." The author, Chris Forbes, is involved in ministry marketing.

The premise of the article (which I can't find a link for) is that Facebook can be used by pastors and others to connect with people. The idea is that this can be a new way to reach folks with the gospel and maintain contact with those in and out of our churches. Overall I see the logic and understand the validity of using a broad range of tools to share Christ.

However, there can be other challenges when media meets ministry. I found one statement in the article just a little problematic. Maybe I'm being too critical, which is always possible. Here's the statement that troubles me: "With all the potential of social media, like Facebook, to form authentic communication and connections it's easy to see that it's becoming a great investment." [emphasis added]

I really don't think reading about someone on a computer screen fosters authenticity and creates genuine connections. This is what we have come to. Email, text messages, blogs, instant messaging and on the list goes. Electronic connections are not the genuine heartfelt connections that people need and want.

Certainly we should be creative in our approach to our friends and family with the message of hope in Christ Jesus. We should seek to build real and lasting relationships that will grow as a bridge for the gospel. But there is a time to cast aside pragmatism in favor of face to face, heart to heart communication. There is just something very special about looking someone directly in the eye as you share with them about God's grace in your life. Or being able to shake their hand as a means of encouragement.

There have been hundreds of people who have read this blog, well okay, dozens. Many of whom I will never know and never meet in person. God could use this form of communication for the purpose of ministry and evangelism. But the people I meet at the coffee shop and the ones who attend our church, those are the folks that I can really know in an authentic way.

I will use Facebook and this blog to share the truth. I would be crazy not to. But, I will bear in mind the limitations of electronic media. What do you think?


Chris Forbes said...

Thanks for the blog post about the "Facebook for Pastors" article I wrote. There is a free 31 page e-book about the subject I wrote that talks more about Facebook's potential relationship-building for pastors found in Facebook. At this link on my site

I totally agree with what you said about the line, "With all the potential of social media, like Facebook, to form authentic communication and connections it's easy to see that it's becoming a great investment." Using Facebook as a replacement for real relationships, is not the context of what I meant. The point I make all the time about using media(or marketing) is that it does not automate relationships. But I think you would agree, there is as much, or more potential for Facebook to add to relationships as is found in using the telephone, email, blogs (as you are doing), snail mail, etc.

BTW: I think many pastors are under the impression that just by preaching each week and standing at the exit of their church shaking hands they are being personal with their congregants. I like what Facebook adds to the relationship equation. Making a pastor more approachable to a segment of the church that really needs and craves more personal contact with him. You are right. If anyone looks to Facebook, or any other media to automate relationships they are going to be disappointed!
I have a couple of blog posts about that topic.

Thanks again for your thoughtful comments!

Jon Cyrus said...

Thanks for stopping by "the Steeple." I appreciate your comments and your desire to aid pastors in their ministries. You are right, there is a segment of the ministry that are simply unwilling to get out of the box at all. Certainly there is much we can and should do to take the gospel to our communities and the nations.

Blessings to you as you serve our King!