Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Social Media and the Church Part 5

5. Public and Private Conversations

Over the past ten years, especially with the under 22 crowd, self revelation on social media and the web has exploded.  What many of us would never think of putting out into public is now very, very public.  Twitter, Facebook and Youtube have given a voice to those willing to share and bare it all.  Private conversations have become very public.  The media has turned what used to be proper news programs into a sad caricature of it's former proud self.  What used to be news is now just gossip dressed up with clever intros and discussions of some well thought of writer or commentator.  Shame, decency and privacy seem to be disappearing from the mortal souls of some.  Not all, but many feel it their God given right and duty to put it all out there.  No judgement here, just highlighting a trend.

For the pastor, the Christian and the church, there must be a distinction between public and private.  What we choose to put out there is up to us.  Managing many different outlets for our social media lives can become confusing.  There are some great products to bridge the gap between all of them, like hootsuite.  But for the most part, it's up to us to determine what we want to share with others.

Is it appropriate for our camp counselors to put picture of them out partying and drinking in college, when they are facebook friends with the kids they counseled at camp?  Yes, they should not be drinking in the first place.  An awareness of who is watching and being influenced by us must be one of the main priorities as we discover our guides for sharing.  Being a free country, and the internet is still free (not for long), it's up to every individual human being to decide what they share.

The Christian Guide For Sharing on Facebook, Twitter and everything else....

1. Be honest about your hopes, dreams and life
2. If you are living a double life, it doesn't matter what you post, people will know.
3. Share your daily faith experiences
4. Share relevant scripture passages
5. Share prayer requests
6. Lift up friends and others
7. Don't get too political, judgmental or rude- our message is one of faith, hope and love, not division.
8. Post as if you were telling the whole church on Sunday morning, because basically you are!
9. Don't be a creepy social media stalker
10. Glorify God in all things
11.  Humor in good taste is always appreciated
12. Ask others for advice.
13. Seek others opinions if you are struggling
14. Friend your pastor on Facebook, have them follow you on twitter (it keeps you honest)
15. Share your life story, especially about your family.
Finally, a healthy Christian in their heart knows what to post.

I hope that helps us better understand public and private conversations.  With the drive for more and more self revelation, my comfort zone will continued to be pushed.  Just make sure that in all you do and say that you lift high the name of Jesus Christ.

Go in peace and go with God.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Social Media and the Church Part 4

4. Proper Use of Social Media (safety)

We all have a personal identity (social security number, credit identity, etc) and social identity (facebook, twitter, etc).  Those who have kids are very aware of their children and teens social identities because they have heard from the media how easily a hacker or predator can swoop in and convince good kids to do unsafe things.

Being safe online, whether it be making sure your credit is frozen so no one can steal your identity, or making sure you rotate passwords with email, Facebook, Twitter,  Itunes, Amazon, Xbox Gamertags, Blogs or any other "accounts" you have out there is something that many of us forget to do.

Did you know that if you are playing Xbox live you can talk to millions of people all over the world because you might be playing a similar game online.  I learned this from my nephews recently.  As we played some games over Christmas I was stunned to hear language from others that was less than kind (you can mute them).  I was also stunned at the realization that children and teens could have online, live discussions through headsets or even with the Xbox Connect (live video chat) with zero parental knowledge.

Social media and the way we connect will continue to evolve over time.  There will always be new things coming and the way we as parents monitor the influences in the lives of children will need to change as well.  There is no need to unplug your kids Xbox or other game system as of yet.
We will always need to renew our desire and passion for teaching kids and adults smart and healthy was of using social media.

You never really know who is at the other end of the line because anonymity is foundational to the online life for some.

Where does the church fit into this conversation?

We need to remain that light in the darkness and help people who have been scammed or hacked to walk with them through the process of healing and dealing with these issues.
The church must continue to provide a standard of leadership by which we do not judge others, but help identity healthy ways for us to use social media to share the gospel, help people connect and make a difference in this world.

Safety for many things in our lives is a big concern.  With vigilance, a willingness to learn and lead in this area, we can better protect our kids, teens and ourselves from the dangers of the online life.  Just like your regular life, there are similar people who push our buttons and attempt to drag us in the wrong direction.

Please keep your life whole.  Do not fracture your life into many different worlds of work, church, online, personal, social, etc.  Be yourself and be honest with others.

Go in peace and go with God.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Social Media and the Church Part 3

3. Types of Tweeters or Twits

I've been on Twitter for less than a year.  I have once opposed the micro posting, micro bogging, 140 character discussions with hashtags that seemed to give anyone and everyone a voice on anything and everything.
After using Twitter, I realized the error of my early thoughts.

There is a main Twitter feed of who you follow and then a list of what's trending.  Twitter uses hashtags # to begin a group conversation about and event or issue.  You can search specific issues or events to see what people are saying.  For our Annual Conference last year the hashtag was #moumc or #moumc11

When using Twitter beware and know that there are different types of folks on Twitter.  There are many lists on the web about types of people who tweet, so I am borrowing a few and placing them here.

1. The guy or gal (teens) that don't realize they have an open status and post terribly inappropriate stuff.
2. The business guy that has his Twitter set to send out tweets every 30 seconds (turns out to be noise, so no one really listens)
3. The political right and left tweeters
4. The company Tweets (usually promoted)
5. Christian tweeters (not all of them follow back- #fail)
6. Social Media giant tweeters (people who get this stuff)
7. Politicians (none do this well)
8. The unrelenting slam humorists (best to follow)
9. Actors (most are not funny or say anything interesting)
10. Singers/musicians/bands (usually fun to follow)
11. Local businesses
12. Local people who you will never meet but since you live in the KC area, so why not follow
13. New Organizations- favs WSJ, Washington Post, Huffington Post
14. Overseas guys and gals (you will never meet these either, but they live in england, etc and it's cool to see what they have going on)
15. Pastors- Sadly, most pastors do not have a clue about Twitter or even Twitter etiquette- follow back, at least your own church members, geez)
16. People who retweet but don't actually tweet
17. Inspirational/Philosophical Tweeters
18. Quote Tweeters- quote random things ALL THE TIME.
19. Writers, Bloggers, Authors- good to follow them- good insights, interesting stuff
20. The ____ Daily Is Out People- who write something every day, which you can take or leave
21. Fake Tweeters- Spambots- not a real person, just a program trying to get you to buy stuff
22. The buy my stuff because it's a good deal
23. The buy my friends stuff, because I get a cut
24. The guy who has nothing else to do but sit around tweeting
25. Non-profit/issue oriented/church accounts- Not bad to see what other people are doing

I hope those make sense.  Not an exhaustive list, but maybe that provides some insight on how Twitter can be a very cool way to connect or a colossal waste of time, just like Facebook.

Oh yeah, feel free to follow me on Twitter @umvickers

Go in peace and go with God.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Social Media and the Church Part 2

Not Your Teens Facebook Anymore-

Some of you know that in the beginning, the only users that could actually access Facebook were students. You had to have the .edu at the end of your email address or you could not sign up.  It started with college students, then high school students and so forth.

Then a few years ago Facebook opened up to the world and many Gen Xers and Gen Yers not in college jumped on.  It was fun to connect with my camp counselors and the youth in our church.  A bunch of my high school, college and seminary friends were immediately on and quickly found each other.  Users jumped from several million to the hundreds of millions.  Everyone was talking about Facebook.  And it was still cool.

Then the high school and college students started to notice a disturbing trend- their parents were joining Facebook, and now their grandparents.  And for most teens this was no big deal.  They didn't have anything to hide and were not posting anything too offensive.  But for the others, the statements came like "Facebook was cool until my mom got on it", or "there are too many old people (me included- I guess I'm old) on Facebook".  Some some of the  younger generations ditched Facebook (not completely) and moved to Twitter.  The only reason I'm on Twitter now is because some of our  youth said I "needed" to be on Twitter if I was going to connect with the next generation.
And the other outlets are instagram, the path and tons of other places I have no connection to but I hear are the next great thing in social media.

Facebook is still hugely popular with new users every day.  It may not be as cool as it once was, but it is still an amazing place to connect, share and build relationships.  It's virtual yes, but there is a whole world out there of social media that is helping build brands, churches, messages, ideas and to some extent, helping change the world.

We might not be able to reach the next generation like we once could through Facebook, but with 700 million active users in a world of 7 billion, that is a lot of people, especially in the US, that are on Facebook.

Go in peace and go with God.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Social Media and the Church

With the growth of Facebook and Twitter over the past few years, the church at some point and time needs to be mindful of the relevance and opportunities presented with such outlets for their evangelism, ministry and mission.

So over the next few weeks I will be writing about Social Media in regard to a few things:
1. What are Twitter and Facebook?
2. Not your Teen's Facebook Anymore
3. Types of Tweeters or Twits
4. Proper use of Social Media (safety)
5. Public and Private Conversations
6. Pastoral Use of Social Media
7. It's All About Connecting.

1. What Are Twitter and Facebook?

They are both web platforms for connecting with others.

Twitter has followers
Facebook has friends.

If you have never used either program Facebook- 700 million users, Twitter- 70 million active users, I would encourage you to jump on and sign up for either one today.

Facebook is like your own mini-website where you can share pictures, videos and status updates on your "wall".  Your wall is where you post stuff, and where others (depending on your settings) your friends can post stuff as well.  There is also a stream of who you follow and you can see the vids, pics and status updates live of your friends.  It's a great way for friends, new and distant to connect.  You can check in and see how people are doing, and find out their interests, etc.  Our church has a facebook page which is a place where we share what is upcoming in ministry and messages.

The Pros of using Facebook include: connecting, sharing, conversation, family connections, church updates, etc.
The Cons- Be careful who your kids friend on facebook.  Watch out for old flames wanting to "reconnect" with you, especially if you are married!  Many divorces happen because cheating started on facebook.  Finally, life is meant to be lived, get off the web and live!

Those are just a few about facebook.

Now twitter.

Twitter is basically people sharing their thoughts, ideas, humor, etc 140 characters or less with whomever follows them.  Twitter is about who follows you and who you follow.  Most twitter accounts have less than 100 followers, but follow 100's.  There are churches, pastors, entrepreneurs, leaders, teachers, businesses, celebrities, politics, newspapers, media outlets, etc on twitter.  You can make lists to follow specific groups on twitter.  A few months ago I was pretty anti-twitter.  But once I jumped on, I found that I can follow people all over the world, and usually will receive news updates on twitter more quickly than tv, radio or even the web.  I personally enjoy the humor on twitter, especially during this campaign season.

I hope that helps in better understanding Facebook and Twitter.  My explanation is not exhaustive, but maybe you might be able to seen the benefit for the church and the world.  It's all about connecting, and for a church that says "We Make Disciples by Connecting People to God and Neighbor", we should as Christians and as the church, try and share that message everywhere we can.

Go in peace and go with God.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Suburban Dream- When Helping Hurts

Over the next few weeks we will discuss homelessness and poverty in Lee's Summit, Kansas City and Missouri.  Some of us struggle to understand the problems behind poverty because we assume all conditions are the same.  We also assume everyone has the same gifts, abilities and chances as we did.  We have a tendency to become very judgmental toward those who are in a perpetual cycle of dependence.
What would it take to break the cycle of dependence?  What would it take to move someone from poverty and homelessness to someone with a home, a job and finding their way again?

A few things must be named as we proceed to help us better understand the journey we must take to change the lives of others.  Change begins with us.

2400 sq ft home √
3 car garage √
Mini van and SUV (maybe a truck) √
Perfectly manicured lawn √
2.5 kids √
Two income home √
Frequent Kids Sporting events √
Frequent the Farmers Market √
Frequent Costco/Sams √
Always tired √
Always running √
Eat meals on the way somewhere with kids √
Credit score not where is should be √
Too much debt √
Gave 2.4% of our income to charity √
Maybe attend church, maybe not √
Overworked √

Maybe this describes us, maybe it doesn't.  Many have written and spoken on trading the Kingdom of God for what we believe will fulfill us (insert earthly dreams here).

Wealth does not bring happiness, usually it brings more headaches and problems.  What are we working toward?  Step off the hamster wheel, and walk away from the rat race.

If you are looking for a second chance at life or just need some rest, join us in worship this week as we begin to radically change the our walk with Christ.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Sermon Series this January 2012

When Helping Hurts

In our new, original sermon series, we pull from the work of Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, who have written extensively on poverty in the United States and the world.  Over three weeks, we will discover why Jesus came to earth, what being homeless and hungry can do to your spirit and how we can all move beyond crisis missions to transformation, life change activities.  Over the past few years, Grace has moved toward becoming a missional incarnational church.  We go out and go deep.  If you are looking for life change and have a passion to help change the lives of others, join us. 

Jan 8- Why Jesus Came to Earth
Jan 15- A World Without Hope
Jan 22- Moving Beyond Crisis Mission