social media and the church

I recently dove in to a social networking site called seesmic.com, which is like a video twitter. I am not on there much at all lately. But I learned a few things from that experience that translate quite well to church. So, here goes.

Social networks can be hard to crack. The community is set. People mostly know each other. And for the newbie, it’s hard to know what to do, what is acceptable, and how to break into the community. Church is really no different. As soon as a first time guest walks in, they have the same feelings. What will the experience be like? Who will talk to me? What am I supposed to do? Will I like or dislike this experience?

Social networks seem to be averse to change. In the four months I was hanging out on Seesmic, it seemed that every change sent a ripple through the community. And churches seem to be the same. Change is required to keep the organization moving. God is a God of advancement, not stagnation. And change has to be introduced to adapt to God’s advancing of the church. Resisting change can often be an increase in resisting growth.

Social networks don’t miss you when you are gone. I have been off Seesmic for about a week now. I got maybe three messages. Not complaining mind you. It’s just that they move on with or without you. And in church, it can’t just be one or two people that call you when you are gone. It has to be the community loving and caring for those that are in the community. And when one goes missing, there should be a flood of calls and visits.

Social networks can be time consuming. It takes a bit of time each day to check in, stay updated, and engage the community. The church can’t be a one hour event on Sunday. It can’t be a host of events. It must be a group of people doing life together and spending time together.

Social networks can be intolerable. I witnessed on more than one occasion someone coming into the community, saying something inflammatory, and being ostracized or rejected. Seems to me the church has to be the place where we tolerate alot more and love alot more and share what God has to say about the conversation alot more.

Social networks are full of people who really appreciate someone caring about them and genuinely trying to help them. Church is no different. People are so appreciative when we take time to listen, to care, and to be there if nothing else for a sympathetic ear. But we can also pray and counsel and bless.

Social networks look a whole lot more like the church. But the church has to take a cue from these networks and rise above the pitfalls of the downsides of social networks.

5 Responses to social media and the church

  1. sukhjit says:

    Very interesting insight into both communities, online and religious. I actually have been wondering where u and Candy have been. Thought maybe we scared you away. If we went to the same church I may just call you to see where you’ve been and what you’ve been up to. Since that’s not the case I did the next best thing… I found you online and started to “follow” the tonychimento updates! I’m realizing that may be the web 2.0 version of a phone call saying, “hey, everything ok? Where have you been lately!”

    Community is tricky and this new world of online community still seems kind of fragile to me. In my short time working at seesmic I realized this is the beginning of bringing people closer together, but like anything else it takes time and commitment (if you have it to give).

    So many more things to say… I think I better write a blog post of my own! Hope all is well with you, Candy and the kids!

  2. Loic says:

    wew I had seen many comparisons of Seesmic with but never with Church, impressive! Thanks for your post and we will love to see you again soon in Seesmic.

  3. I should have added that seesmic definitely has the most amazing team to manage and host all the people online. Honestly, they work overtime to maintain a stellar experience for the community. Seesmic refuses to allow their platform to become second class, mainly due to people like Sukhjit and Loic. Their whole team is pretty amazing. And churches should have amazing teams to work very hard at building their community and guarding the vision and footprint.

    Sukhjit – thanks for the note. No you guys didn’t scare me away. You are right, community is tricky, no matter where you are.

    Loic – I am amazed that you have the time you do. You own seesmic but here you are commenting. Thanks for dropping by and reading my comparison.

  4. Kyla says:

    Hi Tony,

    I really enjoyed your comparison of the church and Seesmic. There should be similarities as they are based on the concept of community. I come and go off Seesmic, but find it to be a pretty welcoming place. I think of it as a drop-in centre of sorts: a place you can come and go, and they are usually conducive to your presence.

    The users of Seesmic are lucky to have a dedicated and enthusiastic team at the helm of a growing service. I just hope that this will not get lost in the growth as it often does with the church.

  5. Kyla. I couldnt agree with you more. The Seesmic team is an amazing group. I really think you could replace Seesmic with anything else and it would be amazingly successful with that team in place. Thanks for your comment.

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