Mobile Marketing Watch have published a fantastic info graphic on social media in 2013:
Mobile Marketing Watch have published a fantastic info graphic on social media in 2013:
Some more funny and random headlines from around the world:
Of all the messages the world has ever heard from politicians, story tellers, advertisers and more the gospel is still the stickiest. The good news is that God’s message is your message, which makes your presence and voice online wholly (and holy) indispensable!
I want to challenge you today as a Christ follower to change your mind-set of the way you spend your time online. I want to challenge you to forgo denomination, to sit in the same pew or row, and write this ongoing story together and share new ways to reach a fragmented world for Christ.
Together, as leaders we can light up the online space. We can “go” and we can “tell” as Jesus asked each of us to do. And we can change absolutely everything.
Throughout history, game changers have stepped forward in the faith to affect the way people communicate God’s truth in the culture in which they live.
As far back as 2002, Pope John Paul II got it. He understood the significance of the Internet and inspired Christians around the globe to embrace it as a way to share Christ with the world. Here’s what he said in a public speech:
“From this galaxy of sight and sound will the face of Christ emerge and the voice of Christ be heard? For it is only when His face is seen and His voice heard that the world will know the glad tidings of our redemption. This is the purpose of evangelisation. And this is what will make the Internet a genuinely human space, for if there is no room for Christ, there is no room for man … I dare to summon the whole Church bravely to cross this new threshold, to put out into the deep of the Net, so that now as in the past, the great engagement of the Gospel and culture may show to the world, ‘the glory of God on the face of Christ.”
Communication channels have changed radically since Moses walked down the mountain, stone tablets in hand. Old Testament scribes wrote on parchment made from treated skins of sheep or goats, and they used pens fashioned from reeds. The prophets preached in synagogues and countryside’s. Later, Paul wrote his letters on scrolls of papyrus and gave them to friends who would deliver them to the churches in other cities.
Little did Paul realise the frenzy that would kick up on the other side of his prison bars as game changers emerged, ready to take up the charge of the gospel. Generations of followers communicated the gospel with various tools. In 1440 the printing press changed everything as Bibles went from locked archives to retail.
In 1517 Martin Luther nailed the Ninety-Five Theses on the door of the University Church in Wittenberg and changed the game again. Religious tracts were used as major channels throughout the turbulence of the Protestant Reformation. John Calvin wrote, debated, and preached tirelessly during the Reformation. In the eighteenth century, John Wesley travelled 250,000 miles by horseback in his efforts to spread the Word, and he preached in open fields to as many as twenty thousand people at a time.
In 1922 Aimee Semple McPherson preached what is believed to be the first radio sermon. Christian writers such as A.W. Tozer and C.S. Lewis followed with critically important writings through World War II. Passionate game changers such as Dwight Moody and Billy Graham also shared the gospel over the radio waves. Television and revivals catapulted the reach of Billy Graham’s ministry. His first television crusade generated 1.5 million letters to the television station, confirming the power of that medium.
Bill Bright was another game changer when he wrote The Four Spiritual Laws, the most widely distributed religious booklet in history, and later commissioned The JESUS Film, one of the most influential films ever made. The renowned documentary on the life of Christ has reached more than 6 billion people in 234 countries and has been translated into one thousand languages.
But just because a technology evolves, there is no guarantee that a demand will support it. Remember the Microsoft Zune? The Apple Cube? Google Buzz? You don’t remember the technology failures because they failed. Multiple factors can be attributed to why social media has grown so rapidly, including cheaper broadband, a fire to innovate and the global economy shift. As unprecedented economic, political, and social factors continue to fragment continents, cities and even homes, words such as connection, community, and relationship increasingly dominate the conversation.
To explain this in statistics it took radio thirty-eight years to reach fifty million users; television, thirteen years; the Internet, four years; and the iPod, three years. In just a nine month period, Facebook added one hundred million users, and downloads of iPhone applications reached one billion.
Still think using social media is a passing fad or another waste of time? You may soon join the ranks of these leading, albeit well-meaning, thinkers:
Broadcast to Social Media
In the five hundred years or so between the inventions of the printing press and the Internet, we have lived in a broadcast media environment of books, radio, newspapers, and television. These media served as highly effective platforms for sending a single, well-crafted, attention-getting message out to as many people as possible. But broadcast media afforded little opportunity for feedback or discussion, except, perhaps, for letters to the editor. In the church, we have used this one-to-many broadcast communication model in sermons, printed newsletters, letters from the Rector, and broadcasting worship services on Radio 3 or Songs of Praise.
Social media represents a profound shift in this model. Today, almost anyone can publish a blog, have a YouTube channel, and host their own podcast – in effect an internet based radio station. Anyone can comment on, extend, qualify, discuss, and share a clergy’s sermons.
In the era of broadcast media, the most influential ministry platforms tended to be those of large cong
Of all the messages the world has ever heard from politicians, story tellers, advertisers and more the gospel is still the stickiest. The good news is that God’s message is your message, which makes your presence and voice online and that of the children and young people we work with wholly (and holy) indispensable!
I want to challenge you today as a Christ follower to change your mind-set of the way you spend your time online. I want to challenge you to share new ways to reach a fragmented world for Christ. Together, we can light up the online space. We can “go” and we can “tell” as Jesus asked each of us to do.
Multiple factors can be attributed to why social media has grown so rapidly, including cheaper broadband, a fire to innovate and the global economy shift. As unprecedented economic, political, and social factors continue to fragment continents, cities and even homes, words such as connection, community, and relationship increasingly dominate the conversation.
Broadcast to Social Media
In the 500 years or so between the inventions of the printing press and the Internet, which Dave will explore later, we have lived in a broadcast media environment of books, radio, newspapers, and television. These media served as highly effective platforms for sending a single, well-crafted, attention-getting message out to as many people as possible. But broadcast media afforded little opportunity for feedback or discussion. In the church, we have used this one-to-many broadcast communication model in sermons, printed newsletters, letters from the Rector, and broadcasting worship services on Radio 3 or Songs of Praise.
Social media represents a profound shift in this model. Today, almost anyone can publish a blog, have a YouTube channel, and host their own podcast. Anyone can comment on, extend, qualify, discuss, and share a sermon. With today’s technology, you can reach in minutes, and even seconds, the physical ground that the apostle Paul and other game changers covered in years.
Sheer size of Social Media
The sheer size of social media is huge:
Following all those statistics it is easy to be over whelmed. But as Paul challenges us in 2 Corinthians we need to not lose heart, not be crushed, not in despair, not abandoned, not destroyed, as we’ll hear in a moment, if anything the opportunities that we have to share the Gospel are ever increasing in this digital world.
Practicing Digital Ministry
Jesus: The Master of Buzz
Remember the viral buzz generated around The Blair Witch Project back in 1999? How about the Susan Boyle Britain’s Got Talent audition video? Don’t forget the explosion of the YouTube phenomenon that is now Justin Bieber, or the hilarious viral e-mail sent each Christmas that allows the whole world to Elf Itself.
We each have the opportunity to give voice to the supernatural acts of God in this day and age. Everyday believers just like you are already stepping out and adding to Jesus’ phenomenal buzz.
However you want to look at it, as a resident of the twenty-first century you’ve got the potential to wield some serious digital influence – for Christ. The message is as sticky, as good as it gets. Sticky content is independent of time, change, and cyberspace. The Apostle Paul, no doubt a thought leader of his day, knew the message was unlike anything else the world had ever known, and he wrote: “We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives.”
Adapting to technology does not mean you change the message to fit the culture. The Word of God stands and does not need to be spiced up or watered down to fit the taste buds of any culture or generations. The Word is as alive and active as it was when God spoke it into existence. The only thing that you must change is your mind-set about how you must now relate to the culture around you.
Writer and theologian Francis Schaeffer said that “each generation of the church in each setting has the responsibility of communicating the gospel in understandable terms, considering the language and thought-forms of that setting.” Whilst the technology that we’re being invited to use might be different, in essence I want to encourage you to rely on traditional modes of engaging with people that have served the Christian community well for generations.
Called to Humility
The online world provides the perfect storm for pride to rise up like a toxic tsunami. To quote C.S. Lewis, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.” When you think more of yourself, you create a place where pride creeps in, and if you’re not careful, it finds a place to set up permanent residence deep inside you. As I’ve said earlier, we’re not here to focus on ourselves, but instead to be Jesus’ servant, faithfully sharing his message.
Humility has a gentle tone; it doesn’t condescend or diminish another person’s value. It doesn’t ignore, marginalise, or favour. It never criticises or corrects in public, especially over minor things. Just check out the example of Mo Farah, having won the New Orleans half-marathon, Farah was asked by WSDU presenter LaTonya Norton if he had ever run before. Farah broke into a smile and replied that he had run a half-marathon before, but that this was his first time running in New Orleans. Not once during the interview did Norton note Farah’s 5,000 metres and 10,000m gold medal success at the London Olympics, only ever referring to him as the male winner of that half-marathon. Various people in the twitter world criticised the presenter to which Mo Farah replied: “Just wanna say to everyone being nasty to LaTonya Norton please stop!! She made a mistake like we all do!! She didn’t mean anything by it!”
Caring for God’s People
When Jesus started His ministry, He began to call individuals to “follow” Him. We see and hear the expression “follow me” or “I’m following …” a lot in the social networking realm, but to date, no one has yet to offer the return on investment (eternity) that Jesus offered. Once the disciples began following Him, Jesus proved worthy of their trust by being consistently genuine and authentic. Basically, He cared, and it showed as He walked, talked, prayed, ate, and lived out the highs and lows of daily life with His beloved tribe of twelve.
The same trust, built through consistent, real, one-on-one dialogue, is the goal in our online relationships. It will be a steadiness of character, a showing up, and a reaching out with a Jesus brand of compassion that will touch hearts for eternity.
It is a paradox of social media that people will share very intimate and sometimes life-and-death matters in social media spaces, even though such sharing becomes immediately both public and permanent. Today, new loves, breakups, engagements, marriages, divorces, birth and death announcements, health news, and personal locations are all shared online. Social media therefore can serve as a good “leading indicator” that something is amiss with someone.
I see my Facebook news feed and Twitter stream as place of and occasions for prayer. People, regardless of faith, in my experience, deeply appreciate these digital expressions of pastoral attentiveness and concern.
We can also actively solicit prayer requests, something we’ve often done with our youth group, in preparation for Parish Prayers on a Wednesday morning – they see that God answers all knee mails! Interestingly I receive as many prayer request from those who don’t see themselves as Christians as from those who do.
Social media is changing the way we learn because it has changed the way we access information and the way we connect with one another. Scott McLeod, a professor of educational leadership describes it this way: “We no longer live in an information push-out world where we passively receive information that is broadcast out to us by large, centralized entities. Instead, we now live within multi-directional conversation spaces.”
The ability people have to find out almost anything on Google, Wikipedia or YouTube necessarily changes the role of the ministry leader as an education. Those in leadership no longer function as “resident theologians” by virtue of any special gnosis or knowledge received in seminary, or from the shelves of the theological books and commentaries in their office. Instead, in a sea of information, they need to help others to become theologians themselves, inviting people to reflect critically upon all the information they encounter and to engage in discussion with others over that information.
Consider the difference between a sermon and the increasingly popular Pub Theology offered by churches around the country. In a traditional sermon, a congregation gathers to hear a vicar impart information. There may be some discussion afterwards in coffee, but the structure of the learning is centred on the teacher who shares their expertise.
By contrast, pub theology is normally facilitated by a “resident theologian” around a table, with everyone having the opportunity to bring something meaningful to the discussion. Social media presents a similar opportunity – a theological conversation happening in a public place, influenced by the life that is all around it. This is, of course, entirely consistent with the Latin root of “sermon”, sermo, which means “discussion.”
Many people worry that digital relationships will eclipse face-to-face engagement; however, studies show that people active in social networks are more likely to be engaged in face-to-face volunteerism and faith communities. This is because people who long for community seek it out in many forms, and people who connect in meaningful ways enjoy opportunities to extend that connection in both online and offline settings. Thus, one of the important roles we have on social network sites is to cultivate a sense of community that moves between both online and offline locales.
Making Public Witness
As we end I want to share with you examples of creative ways to share faith using evangelism. First off, in Facebook, someone took the time to create Jesus’ account for Holy Week – I’ve used it a number of times in schools and youth work to help young people engage with the Gospel.
Second, Twitter users followed the Natwivity throughout Advent, when different figures from the world’s most famous story wrote 140-character updates each day. It included Joseph, Mary, the shepherds, the three wise and King Herod. Natwivity was organised by design company Share Creative and the Evangelical Alliance to bring the 2,000-year-old story to social media platforms.
The Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus video has been seen by over 24 million people on YouTube alone. It’s a spoken word, a modern poem by a young man highlighting the difference between Jesus and false religion.
Dibden Youth has created an online community through our Facebook page. We share information on upcoming events with the 96 people who are part of the page, but it goes well beyond using the page simply as a digital bulletin board. We regularly pray for them, we inspire them with quotes from Christian saints, encouraging them to reflect. All of this digital engagement reinforces the face-to-face engagement we have with them. In addition, for example, in Holy Week we saw 21,147 engage in a range of images and videos we shared linked to Easter. For an average church with a youth group we were able to reach a huge number of people.
The possibilities for the Kingdom in the online world are real, they’re here and now. The invitation exists for anyone with access to the internet. Transformation has started, and you are here to be part of it. The testimonies of grace, forgiveness, redemption, and new life are echoing through cyberspace – if you listen.
Studies show that Christians are online, with their shiny gadgets in hand. This is a wake-up call prompting you to get intentional about how you spend your time online – connecting, serving and leading the conversation in such a way that others will seek to know Christ personally.
The State of Social Media in 2013: