Why Your Pastor is on Facebook

…and I hope you will be, too.

When I walked into homeroom on my first day of high school, I sat down at a lab table and started talking to the stranger next to me.  Today, we’re still great friends even though we don’t see one another very often.  We joke on the first day of high school, one of us turned to the other and said, “will you be my friend?”

I receive requests like that all the time now.  But it is not in person.  The requests are coming on Facebook.  People are following me on Twitter-which still kind of creeps me out a bit.

One month ago I read an article in a magazine that irritated me. Yes, a real, print publication delivered by the US Postal Service.   I am still irritated.  The question the article asked crept under my skin and hasn’t left me alone.

Tony Morgan writes, “When the printing press was invented, the church used that pioneering technology to spread God’s Word and it ushered in the Reformation.  Now we treat new technologies as threats rather than embracing and leveraging their potential.  We live in a world that desperately needs the new life that only Jesus can provide.  God has given us a new ‘printing press.’  Will we embrace the opportunity it gives us to reach the world?”
(Tony Morgan, “twitter this!,” Rev. Magazine, July/August 2009, p. 51.).

Will we embrace the opportunity it gives us to reach the world?  That question has caused me to wonder what might happen if we embraced the “new printing press” and used social media in the church.  No, I don’t want to just use it.  I want to leverage it for good.

I’m not an expert on social media.  But, whether you love technology or it makes you crazy, social media is not going away.

So why is your pastor spending time on Facebook and Twitter?

Life happens in between Sundays.  Life happens in between phone calls, emails and pictures flying on email.  Life happens while you are at work, school, on vacation, and sitting at the little league game.  Facebook allows people to know what is happening in your life.  You get to decide what to share by answering the basic question, “what are you doing?”

So, yes, I am on Facebook.  And some of you are already my friends.  As one of your pastors, it is my goal to help you grow as disciples of Jesus.  I continue to be amazed at the ways Facebook allows this to happen.

In less than 24 hours I had a note from a young adult wanting to meet for lunch, information about a company reference for sound equipment, a member connecting me to other people she thought I should know, a concern from a colleague in ministry who is moving, and much, much more.  While researching social media and the church, I was chatting with the West Ohio Conference contact for social media and before I knew it, I had the best practices in front of me.

Just today, I met someone who has been attending worship since February that I have not had the opportunity to meet.  She was seeking prayer for a neighbor.  Another person from our community was with an aging parent in another state.  I had the privilege of checking in and hopefully offering some encouragement.  As if that wasn’t enough, I was chatting with someone who had just run into God and was overwhelmed with emotion.  What a privilege to meet you where you are on the journey of faith!

None of this will replace our desire to meet face to face.  Nor will it remove our mission to make disciples.   Lives are being transformed in ways we couldn’t imagine just a decade ago. So, yes, if investing some of my time in Facebook and Twitter will help me empower you to fulfill our mission to make disciples, I am there!

4 replies
  1. Jamie DeMumbrum
    Jamie DeMumbrum says:

    Hey, Sara–
    Great job on the post! AND two thumbs up from one of your former parishoners–twice removed (we moved, you moved). Aren’t there lots of stories in the Bible telling us to use what we have? Well…We have Facebook and Twitter. Use them well!

  2. Sara B. Thomas
    Sara B. Thomas says:

    The church is in the midst of a great change that seems to occur about every 500 years. 500 years ago was the Great Reformation; 500 years before that, the Great Schism, separating Constantinople and Rome-eastern and western Christianity; 500 years before that, Gregory the Great led the destruction of the Roman Empire; 500 years before that takes us to the birth of Jesus; 500 years before that, Babylonian captivity; 500 years before that was the end of age of Judges and Davidic dynasty. At each of these shifts, there was the emergence of a new expression of faith. The new expression became the dominant form of religion. Perhaps we should be paying attention. Phyllis Tickle wrote a wonderful book, The Great Emergence, that describes this in more detail.

    Said another way, the Story was told orally for generations, then the stained glass windows like the ones in the beautiful Gothic cathedral where I lead worship each Sunday used to tell the Story. Then the Story was available in print form. If we are not leveraging technology to tell the Story, we’re missing the emergence of a new expression of faith. When I sat in on an online worship experience, the chat room content was focused on checking in on what was happening in life: job search progress reports, health updates, prayer concerns shared and prayers offered on the spot, stories of God at work in our midst, etc. I was astounded. There was deeper conversation happening on-line than often happens Sunday morning in many local churches. People are hungry for a new expression of faith.

    Maybe we do connect online; and maybe we are in the midst of a great shift that is going to press us to “be the church” instead of “playing church”. Perhaps the shift will irritate us and remind us the Story has the power to give life.

    Darn pastors, don’t get us started! End of mini-sermon ☺

  3. bob heuck
    bob heuck says:

    very cool stuff. I think I sort of get why it’s powerful and important. sort of like Paul said — “be in the world” — in order to maintain the ability to communicate by being able to use the latest medium. Having said that I have know idea how to use facebook or even what it does. But you’ve convinced me to check it out.

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