How Will Social Media Reshape the Way We Do Church?

With the increasing use of GPS enabled smart phones and apps like foursquare, social media is attempting to mimic omniscience.  We find ourselves in a world where our technology has enabled more meaningful interactions with someone on the other side of the world rather than our next door neighbour.

Whether we like it or not social media will influence the way we do Church both positively and negatively and it is important that as a church, we anticipate and adapt to these changes appropriately.

Now that social media is here to stay, those that see church as primarily their social network may now find that they don’t need church quite so much.  Alternatively social media may have little effect on those who experience Church as both spiritual and social.

In the consumer generation, commitment is being eroded and content is fast becoming king.  People increasingly are being guided by customer reviews and have the ability to make more choices about the way they live their lives.  Is this same consumer mentality being applied to the way we do Church?

Is Church becoming more fluid, with people doing church when it suits them rather than fitting in with existing structure?  Could this fluidity cause churches to experience more churn, as people pick and choose when and which meetings they attend?  I already know people who are using social media to decide which church meeting to attend?  If their favourite speaker or worship leader is not part of the service that day, they may decide to go elsewhere.

In the consumer generation Hebrews 10:24 is interpreted more loosely and in response, the church needs to endorse the concept of being called to a particular church family (James 4:15) rather than allowing people to treat church as a consumer experience.

There was a time when the local Church was able to guard our minds from false doctrine and filter the information that we were subjected to; however that is increasingly no longer the case.  We have never before had so much information at our fingertips through social sites, blogs, and on-line magazines.  These days due to the web’s low barrier to entry, regardless of their credentials, anyone can publish their ideas.

On a more positive note, is the rise of the ‘social Influencer’ good news for the Church?

It will become increasingly important for Church leadership teams to encourage and mentor their social network entrepreneurs, their influencers and bloggers, and content aggregators.  If one of your church members writes a popular blog they are already influencing people on a global scale.

The boundaries between ‘virtual ‘and ‘real in the flesh’ communication will become increasingly blurred as mobile technology and social applications like facebook, twitter and foursquare draw people into more face to face meetings. Will this mean that micro church will happen more spontaneously in the park or culminate as prayers in the coffee house, as technology draws people together through their network of friends?

Social networking will aid in church growth as our influencers use technology in creative ways to convey the gospel message and connect people into family groups.

Good content will become increasingly important.

As the consumer is overloaded with information it is becoming increasingly important for their favourite content to be aggregated into one place.  We can already see this happening more and more with sites like Mashable, Pinterest and Delicious becoming more popular.  Google no longer just use page rankings to bring you the most relevant content but they now also take into account social influence and relevance.  This means that Christian influencers who are able to gather good quality content into their sites will become increasingly popular and influential.

Social Media Logos

These days it seems like internet gorillas like Google, Facebook and Twitter know you more than you know yourself.  Chad Hurley, CEO of Delicious and co-founder of YouTube recently said “As people’s networks and interactions expand, massive data sets will generate predictive models that will know what you want before you look for it.”

Could the prophetic in us, intuitively predict what is about to capture the public’s attention and help inspire good quality content which will re-direct people towards the Gospel?

For the more philosophical, social media could mean more cross-pollination and unity between church groups aspeople attend events organised by other Christians that they discover and connect with on-line. Church leaders could increasingly find themselves communicating and coordinating with their counterparts in other denominations.

Great news for the Christian artist as digital art will become more important. Due to short cybertized attention spans, good quality imagery is needed to capture the attention of the cyber channel clickers.

As one of my friends put it, ‘Social media means church beyond Sunday, and church beyond four walls.  Churches should be encouraging a continuing sense of purpose and mission through the embracing of social media.’

In evangelical circles during the last couple of years I have noticed an impetus to empower and mobilize grass roots leaders and influencers. In my denomination they have called this initiative ‘Radical Disciples’.

Combined with the power of social media, never before has the ‘Radical Disciple’ had so much opportunity to influence so many.

Read more from Phil here.
Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >


Phil Petty

Phil Petty

I live in Basingstoke, England and am married to the lovely Jane and we have three teenage sons. I work as a researcher for a company involved with mergers and acquisitions. I am addicted to creative writing and I am also the author of Phil Petty DotCom'Truth, Inspiration & Americano'

See more articles by >


What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you Ed for sharing your insights into the Church Growth Movement. I have my reservations with Church Growth models because it has done more damage than good in the Body of Christ. Over the years, western churches are more focused on results, formulas and processes with little or no emphasis on membership and church discipline. Pastors and vocational leaders are burnt out because they're overworked. I do believe that the Church Growth model is a catalyst to two destructive groups: The New Apostolic Reformation and the Emerging Church. Both groups overlap and have a very loose definition. They're both focus on contemporary worship, expansion of church brand (franchising), and mobilizing volunteering members as 'leaders' to grow their ministry. Little focus on biblical study, apologetics and genuine missional work with no agenda besides preaching of the gospel.
— Dave
comment_post_ID); ?> Thank you for sharing such a good article. It is a great lesson I learned from this article. I am one of the leaders in Emmanuel united church of Ethiopia (A denomination with more-than 780 local churches through out the country). I am preparing a presentation on succession planning for local church leaders. It will help me for preparation If you send me more resources and recommend me books to read on the topic. I hope we may collaborate in advancing leadership capacity of our church. God Bless You and Your Ministry.
— Argaw Alemu
comment_post_ID); ?> Amen!!
— Scott Michael Whitley

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.