There is a saying that goes something like “in the land of nudists no one is naked.” I think that’s pretty appropriate for our overview today about Social Media and Technology. And for those that aren’t nude in the land of nudists, well, it’s going to get a little awkward.
Openness and Transparency is the language of the online world now and although you can see this as dangerous the simple fact that it is what it is, there is no turning back, and to enter the world of online without these qualifications in mind is like merging on to your local highway in the complete opposite direction; you may get a few feet, but inevitably something seriously damaging will occur (if not outright fatal).
The evidence is so obvious that it’s almost not worth mentioning, but I’ll make note quickly: People, both young and old, spanning the vast landscape of culture and context, are sharing their lives online via places like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, any of the Google Applications, blogs, wikis, forums, and pretty much everything else.
Though this oftentimes can stun, mystify, and alarm elders and create tension for advocates of privacy, the generation of “nakeness” or transparency inevitably gains high value from its openness. This is what they do: They find, share, socialize, and grow.
From a historical perspective we can see this as a good and necessary thing. We have seen the Church be very closed in terms of their willingness to share information and adjust to the cultural changes of climate and context.
Burdened by gross dogmatism for whatever the reason, we’ve been unable to bend our less-than-critical ideologies for the much-greater-gain by and through progressive tools that could (can) expand our message of the Gospel to the world. What an unfortunate loss. Ministries now should view transparency and nakedness not as a punishment for historical faults but rather a guiding step in rebuilding trust, repairing relationships, and building new ones.
Ready to get naked? More thoughts after the jump:
One of the biggest and most important reasons for engaging is the vast amount of opportunities that are now made readily available. There are already tons of services that have begun to organize our information, whatever it may be. We can thank behemoths like Google for that.
The next relatively uncharted frontier, perhaps, is the organization of the aformentioned data and information. That’s where we can play a vital role in the development of new engagements and applications. The “winner” is not one or two major social networks but a contextually-based, locally-focused, affinity-astute community. Sounds very familiar to the development and spread of the Gospel, right?
Your opportunity and your responsibility is to help organize it first, and then mobilize and empower it. But remember: Openness is the only way that you can harvest it.
It will yield a greater understanding of your congregational needs, deepen relationships, form new ones, and increase your organization knowledge in ways you could almost never imagine. And this makes sense, right? The more information you have the more informed you are, and your decisions will be better decided.
Don’t take this opportunity lightly either, because either you will embrace it or your congregation will do it for you. Your strict advantage is your relative “position” in the organization, but history has already proven that local usurpation (in good faith and motive) do occur when necessary.
Connection and Creation
What your baseline opportunity, though, is to stimulate connection and creation within your congregation and sphere of influence. You do not have all the best ideas and definitely not the best implementation-strategy; those ideas have already probably circulated among your other staff leaders and congregation members.
But, what you can do is stimulate and allow connection and the subsequent creation of these ideations into something pragmatic. This is because you have the platform of empowerment that they do not, which is powerful.
You have the audience, you now have the data, you have the motivation, and you now must approve. Your social media and technology success will depend on how open you are to the winds of social change and how willing you are to enable your staff and congregation to be empowered by it.