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.
I spent one entire day learning all about Google Drive and Google Docs and effective ways to sort G Mail. Fascinating, exhausting, and inspiring are a few ways I would describe my experience. I found myself drawn in to new ways to communicate and getting excited about better venues to form social circles through online communities.
Even though I look like a Grandma, and actually am one, I find I struggle with my peer group when it comes to using social media. Many will not even try. Others are willing but find a new learning curve to be too much of a challenge. A few have tapped in to using this primary way that is used by younger generations to connect and are finding great value in this mode of connecting.
One of the speakers, Meredith Gould, author of The Social Media Gospel, caught my attention when she talked about the changes we are experiencing today all around us. She said that social media is a cultural shift that is here to stay. And because of this shift, rather than be thinking in long range planning of 5 to10 years, we need to be thinking in shorter time frames of 3 to 9 months down the road.
Meredith said we have choices about change when addressing the challenges we have in our faith communities. She said we can choose to: 1. Learn it, 2. Walk away from it, 3. Retire, or 4. Die. I am sure that in some settings there would be those who felt disturbed at this list, but in this setting where we were all present to benefit from the knowledge of today’s social media guru’s in the church, I believe it made us pause to think of how we view these choices and what effect it has in the life of our faith communities.
I reflected on how this same list of choices pertains to the life of our faith communities today. Whether it is social media, changing worship style, or introducing a new liturgy, we have the same choices. I believe one of our challenges as leaders in the church today is to provide learning venues to equip all ages to understand cultural change and help them grow in their faith.
Whether we are 1 or 101, it is good to remember that cultural shift happens. In today’s world, that shift includes social media as a valuable tool for evangelism.
How do you use it in your setting? And how can you help others to get on board?
Perhaps you are not a social media guru and would like to become more familiar with all the terminology and understand how social media is being used today.
Here are a few resources to get you started:
The Social Media Gospel by Meredith Gould
Faith Formation 4.0: Introducing an Ecology of Faith in a Digital Age by Julie Anne Lytle
The Holy Geek blog by Randall Curtis
The Five Loaves website and ministry by Tom Tomaszek
The Learning Exchange Blog is written by our team of Curators: