In the scurry for embracing social media and its most popular sites like Facebook, MySpace, Youtube and Twitter simply because ‘its the new fad youth are into’, many ministries have failed. Miserably.
The biggest reason for this is their understanding of social media – and to that effect, Christianity’s use of social media – as a fad. It isn’t. My post here explains why its not a fad but the next great leap in communication. It isn’t a ‘new and now’, its already mainstream like cell phones and sms. If you’re not on it, you’re forgotten.
If you really want to get Jesus’ message of love and His call to baptize all nations across, you have to understand why young people use social media.
The generation before us relied on telephones for communication with their friends and peers, and that was usually with permission of their parents or guardians. For education or information, they would have to go to a library, buy or borrow books and / or ask someone in person. All of this took time and learning was a time-based process, more often than not taking up a lot of time.
The same used to apply to religious and spiritual growth. The only access they had to being brought up in the faith were their parents’ message to them
The current generation, however, is the generation of immediate access. In seconds, a young person can whip out their smartphone, type in ‘Summa Theologica’ in their phone’s browser and download the entire legendary Christian volumes. In that same amount of time, our parents would have only been able to write down the name of the tome and its writer’s name (St. Thomas Aquinas).
They have immediate access to their friends, and more importantly, to their peers on an every shrinking global circle of trust – or mistrust. When they have a doubt today about Christianity, Jesus, major decisions in life in relation to their faith, they don’t call up their closest priest or nun, pastor or youth minister. Their first port of call is that new god of information: Google. Yup, they will first search the web.
If that gives them some sort of answer or even no answer at all – which is hardly the case – their next move is to get onto Facebook and ask their friends. Even worse – or better, depending on how morally upright their network is – they’ll simply put their query and Google finding as their status and ask the world for its opinion.
THIS is where you come in. YOU – as someone involved in ministering to youth – should have been the first person they messaged, called, and in this case should be the first person to respond to their Facebook status.
So how do you go about it? Well, that’s Step 2. And we’re still on Step 1, there’s quite a bit to know about it before you begin. Like reading up on building trust online. Go get a copy of Chris Brogan’s Trust Agents, probably the best social media book you’ll ever buy. I’ll cover that in Step 2.
In closing for today, here’s a though: What if there were a bunch of people trusted by youth on Facebook, whom they could turn to when curious about Christianity? Who would they be? Would you like to be part of that bunch? Trusted? Mature? Strong in your Christian foundation and exploding with a desire to make Him manifest in their lives?