We live in a fascinating and exciting time! Prior to the onset of major social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, to have impact on someone’s life you needed to have a personal relationship or connection with them. A physical space was fundamental to connection and the concept of church. While the value of a physical space and face to face connection can never be replaced, we now live in a world of access. Church is no longer limited to Sunday mornings within a physical space, it has become 24/7. People are connecting and conversing 24/7, which means the opportunity to be the church is always happening! This does not in any way diminish the value of gathering but rather it gives new opportunity for the church.
Social media has removed the walls of the church and provided its reach and access to people across the earth, without limitation. This opportunity doesn’t just lie in the hands of pastors and church leaders, it is an opportunity for each of us to be the church. You can inspire, connect and bring an experience to another individual through a mobile device and reach someone exactly where they are, a voice of hope. Oceans no longer divide and walls no longer constrain, all through the power of social media. What an amazing opportunity!
Let’s break this down this concept of social media:
First, it’s social. It’s meant to be a tool of engagement, conversation and connectivity. To be known and to know. Your social platforms can be become a personal living room, a place for others to connect. Rather than viewing it as a concept of “here I am”, think of it as a thought of “there you are.” It’s a chance to discover others.
Secondly, it’s media. The opportunity to create media through film, photography and design. We all know that like attracts like and what you put out there will simply attract and draw those who have similar interests. This crosses from the church into the world as it builds a bridge of conversation and intrigue from others. Whether it be business, arts, creativity, fashion, food… everything we put out is drawing like-minded others in. Communication goes beyond words; everything we do is constantly speaking. If you walk into a room of 100 people, you will most likely end up talking to the person most like you. It’s because you saw something in them that connected with you, whether it be from the way they dressed or how they handled themselves. Social media is like this but on steroids!
So what does this mean for you and for the church?
- There is no limit to who we can access and who can access us.
Social media brings infinite space for connection. It allows us to reach into the lives of others in ways we never thought possible.
- Influence to inspire.
You are uniquely gifted and as a Christian you are called to go into all the world. This does not mean you need to have a microphone in your hand or be standing under lights on a stage to be an inspiration. Influence isn’t about size. True influence is the ability to bring about change in the life of another individual for good. While social media is often viewed about friends connecting, it has expanded beyond this. People are watching and listening and what you say and do matters. Never discount your ability to be bring impact to another. God has given you a sphere of influence and trusted you with it. So regardless of size, use it to inspire!
- High impact and low cost.
Media buys through traditional media outlets are strategically controlled and expensive. Yet the ability to share faith through social platforms is free and without limitation! Even better the reach, functionality and effectiveness of social platforms is continually being developed on the dime of others. Think about the costs involved for a Corporation like Facebook to keep their social platforms running strongly; the continual design and programming of algorithms to protect the integrity of the forum. You can piggy back off their work and use the platform for free! In addition to our beautiful buildings and hosting amazing events we can now build and carve out spaces for relationships which can lead to life changing encounters!
- Less broadcasting and more connecting.
People aren’t interested in what you are “selling,” they are interested in who you are and what you stand for. People also have a desire to be known. The underlying need in humanity is belonging. Google has called this new generation ‘Generation C’ which represents our need for Community, Connection, Curation and Creativity. People want to be engaged and involved, not simply spectate. So invite them in! People matter and when they feel they are a part of shaping the story versus simply watching it, it brings stronger connection to the community around them.
Let me share a story… Recently someone I have never met was about to take their life. They had announced this decision on social media and posted a photo of the mountain area they were in. The Socality community quickly responded by writing messages of hope on his Instagram account. We sent dm’s and used a private Facebook group to call others to pray. People across the globe were praying and messaging words of hope and love. We notified the police and hours later he was safe and with the police. He has claimed it was our messages of hope that had stopped him from taking his life. A life was saved through a connection on social media! He has since sought the help he needs and is working on recovery. In what he thought was his loneliest hour, he was surrounding by an outpouring of love from a community of people.
I don’t think there has ever been a greater time to be the church! Jesus commanded us to go into all the world and we have been given the gift of being able to BE the voice of hope that Christ is to the world. Both in person and in connection to people across the globe, without limitation. Even better, we can do this together! I’m a big believer that what we can do together will always be greater than what we can do on our own. When we join our platforms and stories our voice only gets louder. The church unified for purpose and connected amplifies this message of love. The gospel of Christ will be louder than ever before!! So much bigger than a selfie… Go into all the world and preach the gospel…. and use your phone to do it!
All for Eternity!
By Scott Bakken, the founder of Socality, a global community designed to connect and develop cultural changemakers.
A glimpse of Scott’s work…