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Why churches can't afford to ignore social media (for New Wine)


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A session at the New Wine Leaders Conference.

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Why churches can't afford to ignore social media (for New Wine)

  1. 1. WHY CHURCHES CAN’T AFFORD TO IGNORE SOCIAL MEDIA Dr Bex Lewis Director, Digital Fingerprint Research Fellow in Social Media and Online Learning, CODEC Centre for Digital Theology, Durham University March 2015 for
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  3. 3. Let’s “tweet” each other…“Let’s Tweet Each Other”
  4. 4. Image Credit: Facebook Meme
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  6. 6. Even though in practice, face-to-face communication can, of course, be angry, negligent, resistant, deceitful and inflexible, somehow it remains the ideal against which mediated communication is judged as flawed. Prof Sonia Livingstone, Children and the Internet: Great Expectations and Challenging Realities. 2009, p26
  7. 7. SOCIAL media
  8. 8. The Big Questions •Why •Where •What •Who •When •To achieve what? •How do the digital tools help achieve this?
  9. 9. WHY?
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  12. 12. The Church Front Door? For many churchgoing is no longer the ‘cultural norm’. People don’t actively ignore the church: they don’t even think about it. Matthew 5:13-16 calls us to be salt and light in the world, and for thousands in the ‘digital age’, that world includes social networks such Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest. With literally billions in the digital spaces, the online social spaces presented by churches need to be appealing, welcoming, and not look like they are just an afterthought: they are now effectively the ‘front door’ to your church for digital users, and you ignore those spaces at your peril. Image Credit:
  13. 13. The digital environment is not a parallel or purely virtual world, but is part of the daily experience of many people, especially the young. Social networks are the result of human interaction, but for their part they also reshape the dynamics of communication, which builds relationships: a considered understanding of this environment is therefore a prerequisite for a significant presence there. Pope Benedict XVI (2013) @drbexl
  14. 14. "If you want to build a presence in the social media platform, then you need to be present." - @unmarketing
  15. 15. Networks of Networks
  16. 16. We are not selling something to the world that will make more people like us, believe in our story, join our churches. We are trying to be something in the world that invites connection and compassion, encourages comfort and healing for those in need, and challenges those in power to use that power in the service of justice and love (Drescher, 2011, 127)
  17. 17. Rev Prof David Wilkinson God is a communicating God: “In the beginning was the word, and the word was God…”. God is extravagant in communication – he is not a silent God who has to be tempted into communicating with people. Image Credit: Durham University
  18. 18. Push/Pull Media…
  19. 19. Image Credit: Purchased Stockfresh Social Media: More than the cherry on the cake!
  20. 20. WHERE?
  21. 21. Lots of options….
  22. 22. Facebook infographic.html
  23. 23. Twitter
  24. 24. YouTube
  25. 25. Blogging
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  27. 27. WHAT?
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  29. 29. Who sees this? 1. God 2. Parents 3. ‘Kids’ 4. Newspaper 5. Enemy
  30. 30. Human Beings at machines, not “are machines” Image Source: Stockfresh
  31. 31. communications-for-the-social-media-age/ Don’t overthink. Running through committees, endless drafts and approval processes to get a response out there can cause far more damage than good. As long as you have taken the time to assess the situation and can take a rational, respectful tone in your response, even an awkward response is OK to start with, and buys you time to continue to respond to the problem.
  32. 32. Principles of Good Engagement •Be interesting •Be encouraging •Be active •Be helpful •Be authentic
  33. 33. WHO?
  34. 34. Who does social media?
  35. 35. Find Your Voice(s)
  36. 36. Saint Teresa of Avila (adapted by Meredith Gould, 2010) Christ Has No Online Presence but Yours Christ has no online presence but yours, No blog, no Facebook page but yours, Yours are the tweets through which love touches this world, Yours are the posts through which the Gospel is shared, Yours are the updates through which hope is revealed. Christ has no online presence but yours, No blog, no Facebook page but yours.
  37. 37. Clarify Audience • Age? • Gender? • Location? • Educational Level? • Beliefs? • What are they searching for? • How can you make it easier for them to find? • How can you make it easy for them to want to share?
  38. 38. WHEN?
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  40. 40. holders/technology-and-church/social-media-guidelines • The principles applied to this are: • Be credible. Be accurate, fair, thorough and transparent. • Be consistent. Encourage constructive criticism and deliberation. • Be cordial, honest and professional at all times. Be responsive. When you gain insight, share it where appropriate. • Be integrated. Wherever possible, align online participation with other communications. • Be a good representative of the Methodist Church. Remember that you are an ambassador for Christ, the Church and your part of it. Disclose your position as a member or officer of the Church, making it clear when speaking personally. Let Galatians 5:22-26 guide your behaviour. • Be respectful: respect confidentiality. Respect the views of others even where you disagree.
  41. 41. Hootsuite
  42. 42. What is your ONE takeaway action?
  43. 43. @drbexl @digitalfprint QUESTIONS?