Story – Churches and Social Media breakout

Tim Schraeder did an excellent job capturing Cynthia Ware ( and my session at the Story Chicago conference.

Social Media Pulse

What are churches current social media patterns?

  • We are living in a world people dreamed of.
  • There used to only be a computer at work… then it went home… then to your lap… now to your hand.
  • Mobile ubiquity, where everyone has a phone, presents challenges and opportunities for the church.
  • There’s an embedded value system in social media [public/participatory, new media].
  • There’s value in it that it’s instant.
  • Everyone is an equal creator… it’s user-generated content.
  • We’d rather buy something someone tells us about than what we are told by businesses or corporations.
  • Users have a voice and are able to generate content.
  • In a relationship economy, what people say matters deeply.
  • We now have greater accessibility to information.
  • Churches need to move from having “please have your phone off” signs to “please have your phone on” signs.
  • The media is affecting our small group communities and the way that they interact.
  • We’ve torn down the boundaries of distance; there’s now a worldwide conversation going on that anyone can participate in.
  • The definition of “presence” is changing.
  • We HAVE to think through these things theologically.
  • Is physical presence necessary for you to be a part of and “be” the church.
  • Social media allows customization [personalization].
  • One size does not fit all … [MySpace, my reviews, my favorites, etc.]
  • My can be consumer oriented, but it reflects the fact that media is in the hands of every person and every person has the ability to create media.
  • Everyone is a content producer.
  • We now watch TV on our own terms [TiVo].
  • New generations are being raised with these new ideas embedded in their everyday interactions.
  • As technology becomes cheaper and more effective, the Church is confronted with one of the greatest opportunities along with one of the greatest challenges of how to steward it.
  • The Men of Issachar were able to see the times and were able to know what to do.
  • Let’s go to the next level… let’s find out what we are capable of doing and how are we able to frame it in a Biblical context?
  • The word of our testimony is the critical story we have that’s a powerful conduit [Christianity is viral] to reach someone we may have not been able to reach any other way.
  • We’ve moved to a digital age.
  • It will be normal for us to connect online, first and then meet in person.
  • 43% of churches say social media is one of the most effective ways for them to communicate and engage with people.
  • Church websites are the front doors to churches.
  • 77% of people say the church website was an important part of why they chose to go to church.
  • If people can’t connect to your website they may not go to your church.
  • People make judgements about a church based on what the church communicates across their website.
  • It’s a missiological issue.
  • John 17:18
  • Facebook is the 4th largest nation in the world if you look at the number of people that are on it.
  • Non-Christians do not go to your website.
  • Your website is primarily visited by believers looking for information about churches.
  • 20% of all data people are accessing on church websites is information for new visitors… that’s a significant portion where you should invest your time.
  • Use the web to help people new into the church to get deeper into community.
  • Your web strategy should be looked at as an Internet Presence Management.
  • What are you communicating online?
  • How are you connecting to where people are talking and engaging?
  • Where are you present? Where are you absent?
  • Who is responsible for your church’s online presence?
  • What does it mean to be the Church online?
  • How do you define presence? What’s your theology of presence?
  • We need to recognize that participatory media is decentralized.
  • It’s unregulated.
  • We have a lack of control.
  • We have to look deeper at our theology.
  • A mobile, extended presence can be used missionally.
  • Is virtual community real community?
  • What is Biblical community?
  • We need to define Biblical community before we define online community and if it’s possible to have church online
  • We need to ask if we can use an online presence to build real life community?
  • We need to intently be on the internet, it’s a mission field.
  • We, the Church, are called to be counter-culture… what does that mean at this technological crossroads?
  • We are willing to be transparent online, but vulnerability is not often seen online.

Top Social Media Sites

  1. Facebook
  2. Twitter
  3. Private Member Portals [ MemberHub, Monk, Tangle, Unifyer, etc ]
  4. GoogleGroups
  5. MySpace
  • Greatest needs online: events, post prayer requests, get connected, finding small groups and ways to connect throughout the week, integration with their church website and resource sharing.
  • Churches are wrestling with how to use participatory technologies.
  • The Cobblestone Community Network is a tool that’s been developed to help churches have private communication that’s integrated into social media channels.
  • If you don’t set a strategy you’re going to have a difficult time pulling it together later.
  • What is your strategy for the community online?
  • Pick a horse.
  • If you don’t lead your people, they will find their own way and go their own direction.
  • This is something we need to pay attention to but we don’t need to know the mechanics of it; you can find volunteers or someone on staff to help manage this.
  • Things are easier than they were before.
  • There are challenges and effort required but it’s more centered on your strategy.
  • Let people tell you how they want to be contacted… be platform neutral.
  • Let people choose how the content gets to them.