I had a conversation recently with a client who voiced some very real questions that I’ve heard many times. To be honest, I can completely understand what he was asking.
“Social Media is SO impersonal, why would I use it for my ministry?”
He went on to describe how when he wants to connect with someone, he grabs coffee with them. A face-to-face conversation. Let me be clear, social media can never fully replace the importance of connecting one on one with someone over a hot cup of black coffee (or one of those sugar and syrup, watered down mixtures with a hint of coffee, if thats how you roll, I’m not judgin’). It’s true. Sitting across from someone, connecting and being able to minister freely without a computer between you and them is a very needed interaction.
For me, I had to recognize a few things even if I didn’t want to embrace social media:
- I had to recognize that 98% of people living in America use social media. (http://www.foliomag.com/2011/report-98-percent-u-s-online-population-uses-social-networks)
- If I wanted to reach out to where people are, I had to recognize that most people spend 816 hours a year on social media sites. On average, thats 53,000 hours in their lifetime. (http://linchikwok.blogspot.com/2011/01/how-much-time-do-americans-spend-on.html)
- If I wanted to be current with the emerging generation I needed to be involved with what they are doing (within reason). That means communicating with them where they are. Online.
- If I want to get my message out into the world (marketing), I had to recognize that 90% of marketing executives use social media as a medium for doing so. (http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/siia-survey-marketing-executives-believe-social-media-is-an-effective-tool-not-yet-investing-significant-resources-138929244.html)
With those things in mind, I knew I could either drag my feet, only meet people face to face, and watch as the current cultures mode of communicating over takes me and leaves me in the dust. Or, I could embrace it, grit my teeth and make the time to get in and learn what I needed to be current.
I had to realize that I’m not trading personal social interaction for social media. Nothing beats face-to-face for certain types of ministry. But what I had to take to heart was that if I wanted people to hear my message, social media was the way to go and to meet them where they are. From there, I meet people for coffee, invite them to my church and live life “in person” with them.
I also had to realize that I didn’t have to ‘bare my soul’ on social media to the masses. I consider the social media world to be acquaintances that I share parts of my life with, but not all the details. Those are still reserved for close friends and family that I see in person.
Currently, I have numbers of young men I am walking with through difficult seasons that I would never have met outside of social media. I’m so thankful for the new avenue of ‘meeting’ people and want to continue walking it.
So, if you’re dragging your feet like I did, take a look at the stats, they don’t lie. If you want to go where the people are, social media is a path you have to travel.