I hear it all the time when church folks offer social media advice to one another,
Get one of the youth to run the church’s social media ministry.
I get it. Those of us who trend a little older have it emblazoned across our foreheads – no thanks to many of the cultural narratives – that young equals technological savvy.
And for the most part, that is true.
Change your TV back to a language that you understand, sure.
Think you broke the internet and need someone to fix it before Al Gore finds out, yes.
Help you find that app that somehow disappeared from your iphone, probably.
Remind you how old you are because you still say, “Bad, stoked or sick,” definately.
Run your congregation’s social media presence and develop your congregation’s social media plan.
Eve Meyer in her recent blog post, Any Idiot Can Do Social Media, addresses how executives often determine who should be in charge of their company’s social media and I think this applies to us church people as well,
Too often, Executives — still baffled by who should handle their social media — think interns are the solution. They say, “Wait a minute! Interns are young and have been using social media their entire lives. They really get it. Interns should handle our social media!
Let’s just think about this for a minute. In pretty much every other area of ministry the church does its best to match personal gifts with appropriate ministry and service opportunities. Sure, there is grace around competency and ability that exists within the church that does not exists in business settings, but for the most part we want people to do well in whatever area of ministry they are called to so, we make sure they are ready, trained and – oh I don’t know, know what the heck they are doing.
But for some reason, when it comes to things like youth group, church school and social media, the church often assumes that age is the best determiner for competency and call. It’s not.
Meyer goes on to say,
…most young people are very savvy on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and/or Pinterest. But…understanding the technology does not mean that this is the best person to use that technology to represent your company. A young intern may be the perfect choice to handle your company’s social media. Or it may be a middle aged person or a mature person who is the right fit. It is not their age that matters. Nor is a high degree of experience or skill at using social media for personal networking a reason to put that person at the helm of your company’s social media.
Now don’t get me wrong, I think younger folks can certainly bring a unique perspective to areas of ministry like social media, youth programming and education, but that singular characteristic, young, should no more be the sole determiner for fitness than my having opposable thumbs means I should be given permission to play the shiny new pipe organ in your sanctuary.
I HAVE always thought a little Bobby Brown, might sound awesome on an organ.
Part of being a church that faithfully honors and uses the resources that God has given us is to make sure that the gifts of all people are used well. No, this is not always about being “perfect” and I am not talking about building a complex human resources system, but it does mean that we take some time to make sure that gifts are used faithfully, calls are answered and the message of Christ (whatever that may be for you) is shared well.
Social media is a such an important part part of today’s world, that the church must figure out how to integrate its use into their lives in ways that are appropriate, meaningful and effective. This means giving the same kind of attention to the leading a social media ministry that we would give to a pastoral care system, social justice project or music program. When choosing leadership, interest is a definite plus, but making sure that folks possess the proficiency and perspectives that will help to the ministry to thrive are just as important. In other words, putting someone in charge of the social media ministry simply because they use Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram would be like asking me to be the choir director solely because I like to sing a little Taylor Swift when no one is around.
See the above organ reference for additional reasons I should not be given any musical responsibilities.
Let’s face it. Any idiot can do social media. This is why so much of the world regularly uses Facebook. For mass adoption, it is absolutely necessary that social media platforms be easy to use. If not, few of us would have developed the habit of turning to them in our daily lives. So then, how logical is it to engage someone to represent the voice of your organization just because she or he is at ease using tools that just about anyone can use?
Meyer offers some good questions to ask, but ultimately she offers this,
The people who should be leading your organization’s social media are the ones who know how to communicate in the voice of your organization and know how to use this communication to achieve your organization’s goals.
So when as you are thinking about the next stages and steps into the social media world for your church, while a young person may be the person to lead it, don’t assume that it has to be one. Meyers offers some key questions to ask when thinking about leadership, but beyond, “Do they actually use social media?” here are a few more questions that I would offer as you think about who will lead your social media ministry. . .
Can the person articulate the difference between an individual’s social media presence and one that of an organization: tactics, platforms, approach?
Can the person explain the hows, whys and whats of social media to a variety of people in the church: young, old, techie, non-techie, etc.?
Do you trust that they can articulate the mission of your particular church separate from their own?
Do you trust that they will know how and when to refer questions and situations to other church leadership?
Do they see social media as a wonderful too, but not as as the savior of the church?
So there you have it. A few thoughts as you think about the future social media life of your congregation.