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.

Ten Questions to Ask When Seeking Sermon Feedback

Flickr Photo: glasgowamateur

This post was reposted from my column on www.WorkingPreacher.com.

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of preaching at the congregation where my family and I currently worship.

Unlike when I guest preach in other locations, where I can pose big-picture questions and take on general church issues, this church is one where I know the context and am part of the community. What this meant is that for the first time in a long while I had to dig just a tad bit deeper into my understanding of the community and not rely on some tried and true themes. After preaching, I was asked how I thought it went and I gave myself an 8 out of 10. Please do not ask me what that scale really means, but suffice it to say, it was not horrible … not earth-shattering, but nothing to write home about.

Being out of the church for a while, I posed the following questions to my Facebook and Twitter communities:

Okay preachers … assuming that you reflect on your preaching, how do go about getting helpful and informative feedback on your sermons?” Facebook | Twitter

I would encourage you to take a look at both sets of responses as folks offered some very thoughtful ways in which preachers can solicit helpful feedback about their preaching. As I weighed these responses and reflected on my own experience, I would offer ten questions that preachers might ask themselves when thinking about sermon feedback.

Do you even want feedback and criticism?

This seems like a no-brainer, but I suspect that there are some of us who simply do not want or feel like we need sermon feedback. While not the best long-term strategy for growth, if this is the case, then it is vital to acknowledge how this aversion to feedback will impact any system that might be attempted.

What have been your past practices for receiving feedback in general?

Look back and reflect on your current or past evaluation patterns. How have these been beneficial? What patterns need to change?

How do you deal with both criticism and affirmation?

Not everyone takes criticism or affirmation well. Because we sometimes take it either too seriously or not seriously enough. Knowing how to be even keeled with the positive and negative is crucial.

How important is it to you that people “like” your sermons?

Everyone likes to be liked, so be sure that you are not only seeking feedback from people who will generally always like you and your sermon.

How do you evaluate your own sermons?

There are always surprises, of course, but sometimes preachers “just know” if a sermon is good or bad. How does this self-reflection fit into the evaluation process?

When do you best receive feedback?

Some people are ready to get feedback as soon as “Amen” is spoken while others need a few days to settle. Determining when feelings will not be “raw” is important.

Who are a few people you trust to give you honest feedback?

It seems that most people lean on the words or silence of a few trusted folks in order to gauge impact of the sermon. Finding trusted, thoughtful and willing partners is key.

How do you get feedback from the larger community?

While in-depth feedback is helpful, it might also be helpful to find ways to get more general feedback from the larger community. Whether over coffee or an online survey receiving broader feedback can be gives more lenses with which to view your preaching.

How intentional and consistent are you in asking for feedback?

An important aspect of getting helpful feedback is being consistent in seeking that feedback. Asking once and then never again sends a message that getting feedback is a burden not worth the attention.

How integrated is the community in the development of the sermon and subsequent reflection upon the sermon?

Like many preachers, I have found that the more engaged and integrated in the preaching process that the congregation is involved, the better. From helping to think about sermon themes, to being asked for feedback, the entire preaching experience becomes more integrated in the life of the church and feedback is more honest.

There are, of course, many different tools and mechanics to implement an evaluation process once these questions have been asked, but without asking these kinds of questions the feedback received will be far less helpful. I would again commend the threads on Facebook and Twitter where some preachers have offered some helpful advice.

Preach on, preachers.

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