Recently I attended an E-Formation event at the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, VA. It was a wonderful opportunity to become familiar with the many choices we have today when it comes to social media. From Pinterest to Face Book to Instagram to Vine to Snap Chat, one can get lost, confused, and struggle to choose which is the best way to stay in touch and connect with others via social media.
It’s technology training season in the seminary teaching and learning center where I work. In classes, in individual coaching, and in regional and national workshops and conferences, our attention is fixed on helping congregational practitioners, seminarians, and faculty better utilize digital media in their ministries of faith formation, communication, and beyond.
I spend a lot of my time going to meetings and conferences. The face-to-face time at these events is invaluable because of the connections made, interests shared, and information gained. I also spend a lot of my time online doing video conference calls, responding to email and Facebook, and culling through many online resources to find the good ones that are out there. Over the last few years I have gotten pushback from colleagues about online conversations and connections not being “real” or that things like Facebook don’t encourage “genuine” relationships. While this can be true at times, I also find that these online platforms have allowed me to be more fully present to some and maintain connection with others who I do not talk to on a regular basis.
I remember now with fondness what was, at the time, a depressing February day during my childhood. I was at scout camp, and I was working with friends on the fire-building requirement for Camping Merit Badge. There was snow on the ground, and everything our chapped fingers touched was cold and damp. We were allowed five matches to set our would-be fires going. If unsuccessful, we had to wait for the next campout to try the test again.
It is no secret, that in youth ministry (as in most ministry) connection, relationship, and communication are key elements to a good, healthy ministry. When we are connected to one another, we can more closely know one another and understand one another. There are many wonderful books written about this such as Revisiting Relational Youth Ministry by Andrew Root or The Godbearing Life by Kenda Creasy Dean and Ron Foster.
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