Social Networking for Pastors


If you are reading this, you are at least familiar with what a blog
is – great!. Maybe you don’t have one of your own, but you at least read them,
maybe only occasionally, but you have discovered them. If you have
questions about the phenomena of social networking, why you should even
care about it, or whether it is something you should even engage in, I
hope you will read on and that this will be a starting point for you to
continue that search.

As a pastor, you know
that you are called to preach, teach, and reach others with the the
Word of God and to be a shepherd to the local “flock”.  The role of a
pastor has changed greatly over time and can vary greatly among
denominations, regions and individual churches.  While the culture and
the technology changes, if the church is going to have an influence in
the world and the local community, it must earn the right to be heard.
Gone are the days when, you could just set up a church on the corner
and people would just come. Gone are the days where there was a
generally accepted definition of what ‘sin’ was. While Jesus Christ is the same today, yesterday and forever, the world around us is different and will continue to change.

So,
if as a pastor, you know that to be effective you must follow Jesus’
teaching and proclaim Him as Lord and Savior, then you also know you
need an audience. What good is a “resounding gong or a clanging symbol
if you are just making noise in the wind and no one is listening? In
today’s world, just because you have something to say doesn’t guarantee
that anyone will listen. People are not looking for a new place that
they can just be made to feel guilty or to be told that they are
sinners and going to hell. They may not even know what sin is or not
even believe in hell. They certainly are not looking for someone to
make them their ‘project’. They are looking for someone who will listen
to them, to understand them and willing to share honestly with them.
They are not interested in more talking heads. They are hurting, but
before they will take off their mask and share that with you in a way
that will allow you to reach them with a word of encouragement or even
the Good News of Jesus Christ, you have to be real to them. You have to
be willing to show that you care, that they are more than just a number
and that you mean what you say on Sunday.  You have to be willing to be
more than just that guy that talks from the front on weekends.

Jesus Christ demonstrated to us that he loved us so much that he wasn’t afraid to do whatever it took, short of sin, to reach them. He went where they were,
he didn’t make them come to him on his terms, like the religious
leaders of the day. He didn’t demand they hear him preach only on theSabboth in the synagogue and then take the rest of the week off to be only with his family and friends. He lived his life in front of them. He went to the market places and the gathering spots and he spoke in their language.
He loved them. He cared for them. He was real with them. He lived his
life among them and shared with them. Was it demanding – yes. Was it
difficult – yes. Was it so overwhelming that he had to withdraw and
spend time along with God – absolutely!  But it was the model he gave
to us and I believe the example He set for us.

While
many of the details of culture and technology changes over time, many
underlying principles remain the same. People are still hurting. People
are still spiritual, maybe even more today than ever. People are still
gathering in “market places” and still have a “language” that they
speak in. The question is, are as a pastor, and as a church, will to
meet them where they are and to speak in their language? Are you will
to do a learn to do a few things that might make you uncomfortable in
order to reach someone for Christ?  Or are you going to stay inside
that comfort zone and demand that ‘those people’ come to you on your
terms?  Do you really love them?

Okay, I will get off my soap box now and get more into some resources and examples that I hope will encourage you.


If you haven’t already caught on to the world of blogging, I highly encourage you to check out The Blogging Church by Brian Bailey and Terry Storch.
It gives a great overview of the importance of blogging as a Pastor
(and a church) and does a fantastic job of outlining the thought
process behind why you should.  While blogging has been big and
continues to grow both inside and outside the church, a new aspect to
online communication is taking the digital world by storm.  Think of it
as micro-blogging – enter Twitter.

Twitter asks the very simple question, “What are you doing”?  In this earlier post,
I elaborated on that a little more as well as provided some links that
you might want to check out. It may sound ridiculous to some or even
blasphemy to others, but I honestly believe Jesus would use Twitter,
Facebook, blogging, and other tools to reach people.  He was all about
relationships and investing in people’s lives. Shouldn’t we be as
well? 

Facebook, is a more robust social networking
tool. In addition to sharing what you are doing (or what you have to
say), you can share many other things like photos, what music like,
movie reviews, your favorite sports teams, etc.  You can decide how
much or how little you share and who you share it with.  Sure there is
social etiquette that you should learn to follow and sure you might
mess up once in a while and look foolish. But aren’t you willing to
look foolish for the sake of Christ?  Didn’t he call us out of our
comfort zone to reach those around us with a gift that we cannot keep
anyway?

Even if you are not yet ready to
start blogging, or start ‘tweeting’ or start sharing on Facebook, I
strongly encourage to at least stick a toe in the water and observe.
Watch what others are doing and how they are doing it. See what the
have to say. Learn how they do it. Decide for yourself if it is for you
to do or not – but only after educating yourself about it. Jesus came to save the world not to condemn it.

Examples which show how Twitter is growing and becoming mainstream:

    From CNN:

    Church leaders and pastors worth following on Twitter to get a sense of how it can be used:

Additional links / references: