I was at a Webinar the other day that talked, or was supposed to talk, about social networking strategies. The folks involved were involved with or were religious leaders and were already deep into the whole blog – twitter – facebook thing.

I, for one, am a newbie. About 3 months ago my wife suggested that I get a Facebook Page to stay in contact with the younger folks and the teens. So I did. In less than a week I had over 100 friends! It was amazing. Then I started a page for our church…amazing again! It was quicker communication and easier to update than our web page. Conversation via these means was daily instead of once or twice a month. Then, some crazy person suggested I post a sermon manuscript that they thought was particularly good, so I did. Holy Cow! The comments went off the chart!

So, although I don’t really ‘get-it’, I am in.

Back to the seminar. I started to wonder (because my activity is not so much personal, but professional) what my objectives were. So I signed up for the Webinar. It didn’t really answer my question of why do the social networking thing, it spoke about how. I was a little disappointed at first, but the one thing it did do was put me in touch with people who have been asking the why question. So here’s my answer to all those religious leaders who wonder why they should blog, twitter, and facebook:

  1. (For Christians) Show Up. We believe in the Incarnation. To you it may not be a ‘real’ relationship, but many people treat it that way. It is a way to increase our contact with others. So for some of us, it is one way to strengthen the physical community.
  2. Most of Ministry is about presence. In this medium you can, in fact, make yourself present to others in ways that you simply cannot do in your physical, 24 hours in a day, multiple responsibilities, life.
  3. It stimulates opportunities for face-to-face contact.
  4. These venues give you an opportunity to talk about subjects, issues, news, etc. that are not particularly suitable for Sabbath preaching. (Lectionary preachers may note that this is particularly helpful)
  5. It sharpens your skills (you would hope) at reflection, writing, and speaking.
  6. It strengthens your connection with your congregation and community (particularly the young, and young at heart).

I don’t see these five ideas as rules or God forbid, laws. It is my starting point as I jump into the deep end of the virtual pool.

Deus Vobiscum