Considering Barriers to Social Media Ministry

Considering Barrieres for Social Media Ministry

“What do I do if people in my congregation don’t use social media? I get tired of the resistance to new things in the church.”

This is a common question for congregations struggling to gain traction in social media ministry. Roadblocks to social media ministry can come from many different angles:

  • A pastor and/or staff who feels like they don’t have enough time to add social media to their already full plate.
  • A volunteer who sees a lack of support from a leadership board or staff in using social media. Volunteers can be apprehensive when they see this kind of barrier because they feel like there is no recourse. Can one person be the ‘social media voice’ of the congregation? Many individual church members who use social media often feel stuck by leadership attitudes toward social media.
  • A congregation looks at social media ministry opportunities and says, “we have an elderly congregation where people don’t use social media. It’s not really worth the effort.”

Any combination of these issues and others can be daunting for any individual or congregation. The problem is that congregations often view social media as their destination. Or a savior. Or a telos–an end in itself. Without a sense of mission or ministry goals, social media ministry doesn’t matter. Social media ministry is not an end, but a means to an end. Social media is a tool to help you work toward God’s mission. God’s mission is the end (so to speak). Social media is the means to the end.

Until you or your congregation get a stronger sense of your calling from God where you are, you will spin your wheels related to social media ministry. Once you have a stronger sense of your part in God’s mission, the barriers are different. Once you are stronger in your sense of mission, then the particulars of social media aren’t as difficult.

In my context, the congregation’s mission is simple at this point– connect with God in Christ and neighbor. Not many people in the senior citizen majority of the congregation use social media. Some are suspicious of social media. In a recent conversation about social media ministry, a member informed me that she doesn’t use social media. It’s not for her. I don’t mind. I don’t take it personally (easier said than done). But she is still part of the mission. She is a champion of the community dinner hosted by the congregation, and she serves as a greeter for people who come to worship. She is earnest in seeking God’s presence in Bible study an friendships. She provides excellent hospitality for community life.

She doesn’t have to use social media to take part in God’s mission in our context. If she decided to use social media, I would celebrate and share resources about how to make it more meaningful for her. I did ask for her support. I told her to ask questions. I asked her to speak positively regarding social media ministry with others in congregation and community. She works toward the mission of the congregation, and so do I.

We don’t always use the same tools to fulfill God’s mission, but we support one another in using our particular tools. If social media ministry is truly social, it’s about the people and not the tools. If people are made in the image of God, it’s more important that we share the mission as children of God than the tools. If we get that order correct, those of us who are social media ministry practitioners (or soon to be practitioners) will not be overly anxious about attitudes toward social media ministry, and in fact, may give us a sharper edge in using the tools available for the mission of God.

Photo Credit: mag3737

Comments

  1. I subscribe to parallel development in changing times. I continue the current way (but giving it a little less energy) while engaging in a new way. Often, but not always, the old way begins to drop off. Changing times do require more energy. Without parallel development, we cannot continue to follow God. We only follow tradition or our feelings. As Rabbi Gamaliel said, “If it’s of God, it will last.”

    I am fully immersed in social media even while half the parish is oblivious and likes traditional communication, which is often ignored because, while familiar, it is taken for granted as kind of a “comfort food”.

  2. Amen, amen and not just saying/typing this because we’re friends!

    As you know, I believe that we simply must view social media and other communications tools within the context of ministry — our call to fulfill God’s mission here on earth in this, our corporeal lifetime. We need to ask, “What do we want to happen?” before we can choose tools that may or may not be social media.

    Yes, these tools are powerful means to an end but unless and until we define that end (i.e., goal), we’re only bytes in the wind.

  3. I often run into churches that assume they don’t need social media or even a website for any combination of the reasons you listed. I feel like it’s partly my job (and others like me) to demonstrate how interacting through social media could not only help their church, but can help to fulfill the Great Commission. However, I do realize that social media is not for everyone nor every church.

    • The parallel development imagery can be helpful sometimes. What tugs at a congregation is the need for homeostasis–that somehow if a new thing happens in a congregation, it will split it apart, and therefore the new thing needs to be discouraged or eliminated. This is another reason why mission articulation is imperative. Rather than social media being merely a “new thing” that could divide the congregation, differing gifts and tools are gathered in order to fulfill the mission. God’s Mission. We get to participate.

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