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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Social Media and Ministry (part 3)

The Ministry Tech blog highlights some recent survey results regarding the usage of websites and social media (i.e. Facebook) by churches and pastors. The overall results are pretty fascinating (so you should go and check them out), but I'm going to just look at a few things here.

Four fifths of the churches surveyed have a website, but only about half of the churches with websites use them for any interaction. The rest use their websites as a static information holder.

Only two fifths of churches use Facebook in any sort of active manner (meaning that they post regularly) and just under half the pastors surveyed use Facebook. Facebook is used to interact with the members of the congregation, to distribute news about the church, and to interact with people outside the church.

All of that is interesting to me, but what I would really like to know about is how the churches are doing at developing relationships. Just having someone as a friend online isn't the same as having a relationship with them. It takes more work and more time to develop a relationship with someone in an online format than in a face-to-face setting. Merely having "interaction" with people through an online presence isn't a replacement for authentic relationship.

I see that online interaction can be the basis for relationship in a few ways: It can open the door for conversations that are too inconvenient to have in real life (passing words that wouldn't be shared otherwise). It can offer a platform for having open debates about important issues (this needs to be done carefully to not alienate or offend people). It can be a good way to set up face-to-face communication.

How do you use Facebook and social to connect with people?

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