I’ve read a lot of social media books, many that address the possible implications for Christians or ministries, and let me say right out the gate that The Social Church is in my top two favorite of all times. What the book does not do is give away all his little social media secrets (you have to pay and join his Think Digital Academy to get those), which in many ways is a good thing, because every church is unique in what they want to do online, that simply giving generalized solutions without understanding the problem will more than likely fail. What Justin Wise does do in this book, is tackle some of the best theological integration with social media I have to see yet.
I don’t want to necessarily get into if his theology is correct or not, but instead look at the fact that so few writers are willing to engage the two entities. Justin’s boldness to address this issue head-on is encouraging for a social media native like myself to look beyond “what” my next tweet will be and more about “why” I need to post it (if I do at all).
Starts With A Bang
“The man understands the medium” may be the most honest and concise part of this review I can give. He explored where it came from, how it has changed the world, and why the Church should be considering jumping onboard. There is no selling you to have a Facebook Page or branded Twitter account, but he highlights some extremely important reasons why it would be in your best interested.
“We can choose to become interactive [with our social media] as a church or we can choose to fade further into the cultural background.” (p. 66)
It Starts To Fall Flat
The second half of his book seems to miss a mark inititally acheived in the first 40 some pages. It becomes the same “you could be relevant too” conversations that are all over his blog. Does that mean it shouldn’t be there? No. But it definitely is not new by any measure (some of the content reflects blog articles he has written long ago) and did not wow at any point. Also, my biggest hang up of the text is that his jokes, sarcasm, and overall character that makes up who Justin Wise does not translate well on book form. In one paragraph, we are making some funny comment, only in the next to get super serious, thus, a working flow is lost. Having personally talked with Justin via podcasts and hangouts, this is who he is at his core, I just wonder if it could have been better written. Between these two points, his book could have been consolidated much more while still keeping the flare, making this a shorter read, but knock-your-socks off.
My critiques are shallow at best for someone that reads about social media day in and day out. For someone wanting to explore what social media is and has not been reading Justin’s blog, this book is perfect for them. I highly recommend you give it to your youth pastor at the very least, and they are more than likely engaging with teenagers on social media.
If your church wants to venture out into digital media for the ministry, make sure they read this book first.
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