Who Should Lead Your Church’s Social Media Ministry

Flickr photo: flickingerbrad

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.

Hard stop.

Eve Meyer in her recent blog post,  Any Idiot Can Do Social Mediaaddresses 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.

Meyers says,

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.

Why this Presbyterian Signed An Open Letter from the Asian American Community to the Evangelical Church

Others who have since blogged about the letter: Angry Asian Man, Kathy Khang, Rachel Held EvansElder,Jrethinkxian, DoraAsAm News, Evangelical Covenant Church, NPR Codeswitch and The Christian Post — Please let me know if you know of others and I’ll update this list. And if you are seeing this for the first time, be sure to check out, The Open Letter, How We Got Here and Where We Hope to Go by one of the lead organizers, Kathy Khang.

Church is a funny thing. An ever cyclical journey of  division, reunion, amazement, disappointment, joy, despair, hope and love — it’s the place that I call home. To be most precise, my ecclesiasticall mailing address is the Presbyterian Church (USA), my denomination of birth and choice; but my home is also like a city, filled with neighborhoods of wonder and joy. Much like I saunter the neighborhoods of San Francisco, taking in the specific sites, sounds and fragrances that make up the history and energy of that set of blocks, I do the same when it comes to my church life.

The emergent church neighborhood.

The Red Letter Christians neighborhood.

The progressive Presbyterian neighborhood.

The old school ecumenical gatherings neighborhood.

The Seventh Avenue Presbyterian Church neighborhood.

The “once where young and now trying to figure out what’s next” church pastor neighborhood.

And . . . the Asian American Christian neighborhood.

Each of these church locations provides me with new insights into life and faith, relationships that stretch my understanding of living the gospel and circles of community where I see the best and worst of who we can be as people who claim to follow Christ in the world.

Over the past decades, I have been particularly touched by the ways in which I have connected with my Asian American colleagues in ministry. While we have disagreed over a great many things theological and social, we have been able to hold onto some common experiences and  lenses through which we view the gospel. My life and faith have been richer because of these relationships.

Click on image to view original posting on www.nextgenerasian.com

So . . . last week, spurred on by an episode at the Exponential Church Planting Conference where a video was used that depicted White pastors using Asian sounding accents, doing martial arts with oriental music sounding in the background, I was invited into a conversation about writing an open letter to the evangelical church about Asian American Christians and the patterns of marginalization that must be confronted and stopped. Now I have developed relationships over the years with folks, so I was not surprised to be invited, but, because I do not consider myself an “evangelical Christian” as it is generally understood, it felt a little as if I was eavesdropping into another neighborhood’s closed door meeting.

You can read the letter here [PDF] and add your name if you choose [here].

Still, I signed . . . with the addition of one paragraph.

As a side note: while the most recent public examples mentioned above have been connected with evangelical institutions, events, and individuals, we also know both subtle and blatant forms of racist actions are prevalent through the entirety of the body of Christ regardless of theological or ecclesiastical tradition, and our list of signatories below reflects this desire of Asian Americans both within and outside of the evangelical tradition to strive for racial harmony in the church.

Because . . . while the evangelical church has had a few more public anti-Asian episodes as of late, that particular part of the larger Christian body is by no means the sole purveyor of racist actions that are both personal and institutional when it comes to Asian American Christians and the larger Asian American community in the United States.

So I, along with an initial 80+ people signed the initial letter  and as of the writing of this post another 500+ have added their names and voices. As with many open letters, I am not sure where this effort will lead, but I do hope that it will send a message to many that Asian Americans, perceived as invisible and silent by so many for so long, are lifting up our collective voices to say, no more.

Again you are invited to read the letter and add your name to the list of signers [here].

Thanks to the letter organizing crew — Ken Fong, Greg Jao, Kathy Khang, Ken Kong, Christine Lee, Helen Lee, David Park, Nikki Toyama-Szeto, Sam Tsang, Justin Tse, Tim Tseng, and Daniel So. I am grateful for your voices.