We got a tip at SCO about an article by Mike Rosen-Molina dealing with how churches can use and are using Social Media to get the Word out.  While churches have had web sites for quite some time, the emergence of social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter change the dynamic.

So while static webpages might be good for drawing in people already curious about a religion’s tenants, actually getting the attention of someone who wasn’t… that was a little more tricky without coming across as spam. That is, until the advent of social media, and its accompanying ability to build relationships online.

"Creating a web site is perhaps the most basic way to use the Internet for evangelism," agreed Rev. Michael White, a United Methodist pastor and author of Digital Evangelism: You Can Do It, Too!. He noted that newer social networking sites offered more opportunities for outreach because they could better enable conversation than a static page.

"People of faith can use such social media as Twitter, YouTube, blogs, etc. to reach out both to ‘seekers’ (those looking for more information about religious faith) and believers alike to share the tenets of their faith, encourage deepening one’s religious faith, answering questions of doubt, and much more," he said.

With social media, more of a relationship can be built, which is a better foundation for sharing the gospel.  Now, I would imagine that these online relationships themselves typically aren’t enough, but they are a much better launching point than even a blog.  I have a blog (of course) and a Facebook account, and frankly unsaved friends of mine are much more likely to read my Facebook posts, notes and status updates than would read the blog.

The article also touches on specifically religious social media, like Christian sites for video sharing and Twitter-like communication.

While they may be good for uniting the faithful, some are skeptical of services that allow believers to segregate themselves from the wider world. Saddington said that both secular and religious services had their uses, but that people should keep in mind that they were unlikely to spread their faith if they confined themselves to online communities that consisted only of fellow believers.

"There’s no outreach when you’re talking to the already converted," agreed Coppedge. He said that religious social media might be useful for parents worried about their children being exposed to inappropriate content on MySpace or Facebook, but saw little use for them otherwise.

"The focus should always be on building community," he said, "If you limit yourself to only Christian communities, that’s not wise. Some people are afraid of using this technology, but you have to remember that technology is not inherently good or evil. It’s all in how you use it."

It’s the "in the word but not of it" philosophy.  The article is a good read and I think a balanced look at the issues.

Filed under: ChristianityDougReligionSoftware

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