In the interest of full disclosure, I readily admit: I am a tech junkie.
My first foray into church technology was via my trusty Palm m505 handheld at a mega church in the city we lived in. The church had the sermon notes in a format that was downloadable to my device.
Words cannot express my joy when I discovered this; in fact, I am fighting back tears of elation at the memory as I write.
Now, in technical terms, the process of getting it on my device probably defeated the purpose, but it was the ability that intrigued me. Now, in my role as a pastor (and default webmaster and humble e-strategist), that love is allowed to blossom.
Since then (and with more than a few mobile sermon/messages under my belt), the challenge is still the same: how do we get what needs to get out quickly and effectively? How do we get the papyrus in the hands of the people who need it most (and in a way they can appreciate)?
The rise of social networking is a boon to any forward-thinking organization. Used responsibly and paired with an open mind, it is possible to keep a finger on the pulse of current thought. The sheer amount of information borders on the overwhelming, but filtered intake can be invaluable.
So, is this yet another article casually encouraging churches to leverage technology and compartmentalized social chatter? Yes it is, but the underlying suggestion is that we (church workers/de facto e-evangelists) match the effort in the cyber realm with effort in the physical one.
In other words, don’t make the mistake of allowing the tool to become the focus.
There is a true risk in allowing how we do our work to overshadow why we do it. When a church organization throws there hat into the social arena, it almost has to rethink its missional strategy — if only in a specific area.
In any case, if a specific goals are not placed at the onset, there may be the risk of getting lost in the tweet or Facebook update and forgetting the target. As long as any and all adjustments jive with the overall direction of the church and continue to serve the community and congregation, work that cyberspace.
Still, contrary to the conventional wisdom of a just a short while ago, relationships can be created and maintained online. When it comes to evangelistic work, we might even go as far as saying that online relationships need to be maintained.
In other words, beyond looking to funnel all networking activities to get bodies in the pews, there almost has to be an increased effort to maintain the online relationship that was created in the first place.
I believe that understanding that (and at least trying to accept it) is the true key to success in this age.