Tag: facebook

Six Questions To Ask Before You Tweet

20-social-media-iconsBefore social media, a snail mail letter to the editor of your local newspaper was about the only way to make your voice heard. Now Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, WordPress, and Google+ make it easy for anyone to shout out their opinion on any topic, at any time.

In fact, social media might make it too easy for us to let everyone know what we’re thinking at the moment. That may be fine for most folks, but some politicians and celebrities have lived to regret exposing their thoughts, and other things, to public scrutiny. Just ask Anthony Weiner.

Like politicians and celebrities, pastors should exercise some caution with social media, too. Although we’re not running for office, we’re always in the public eye in our own circles of friends, colleagues, and fellow church members.

When I started blogging seven years ago, almost no one in my small town of 1200 people read my blog. For a while I enjoyed my local anonymity because I was able to express opinions on topics I never would have addressed in a Sunday sermon or Wednesday night Bible study.

However, as my local readership increased on my blog, Facebook, and Twitter, I began to rethink my previous reckless “opinionating.” I developed some personal guidelines to regulate my social media posts, tweets, and status updates.

These are six things I consider before I take a public stand on controversial topics:

1. Is this an ethical issue or just a pet peeve?

Like lots of folks, I have an opinion about most things. However, I have discovered I don’t need to weigh in publicly on everything. I now restrict my blog posts to church ministry topics, and my Twitter and Facebook updates to church or ethical topics. Of course, that doesn’t count the times I am just goofing around on social media, but I play that safe, too!

2. Can I influence the situation?

If I can’t have some influence on a situation, I have decided there is not much point in my commenting on it. Therefore, I never write about the latest Federal Reserve Bank efforts to jump start the economy because there is nothing I can say to influence the Fed’s action. You get the point.

3. Have others spoken out who are more credible or qualified than I am?

My example in #2 comes to mind here, too. No one cares what I think about quantitative easing or economic stimulus. Those topics I leave to the experts, the pages of the New York Times, and other esteemed sources. If somebody more credible than I am is addressing the issue, I probably don’t need to add my two cents worth.

4. Do I have something constructive to offer?

When I first started blogging, I quickly fell into what I call “blogger’s syndrome” — posting righteous indignation and scathing opinions eviscerating others who disagreed with me. One day it occurred to me that anyone can rant, but I ought to be offering positive perspectives and solutions. I deleted more than one blog post after coming to that decision. Now I try to offer a positive solution, outlook, or suggestion, and I don’t attack individuals or groups. I know it is a cliche’, but I decided that I would actually be the change I wanted to see. In other words, the way to peace is the way of peace, to paraphrase Thich Nhat Hanh.

5. Am I willing to risk my friends, my reputation, and possibly my job by taking this position?

What do you do when there is an issue so compelling that you must take a public stand? I think then you heed the words of Jesus from Luke 14:28b — “Won’t you first sit down and count the cost…?” If you take a public stand, are you ready to risk your friends, your reputation, and possibly your job as pastor? Sometimes the answer to that question has to be “Yes!” However, most of the time, it’s not. I’m not encouraging cowardice, just awareness that public positions also have personal consequences.

6. What am I personally doing now to change the situation?

Finally, before I write about an issue, I reflect on what I am doing to change that situation. Call this hypocrisy-avoidance, but if I am not willing to “put some skin in the game” as the saying goes, maybe I ought not to comment.

Since developing these questions, I am enjoying blogging, tweeting, and Facebooking more than I used to. I notice that I regret fewer posts, delete fewer tweets, and in the process have increased my readership. If the unexamined life isn’t worth living, according to Socrates, then maybe the unexamined opinion isn’t worth tweeting either.

 

1 + 1,000,000

I crossed two significant (for me) milestones yesterday. First, and most importantly (again, for me), Fuller posted my DMin degree. So, I am now official. As the old joke goes: “My friends call me Chuck; you can call me Dr. Warnock.” Or something like that. Anyway, here it is. The downside is that I still have to wait several weeks for the diploma to be printed, signed and mailed. (Apparently Fuller was not as confident as I was that I would actually graduate!)

Fuller transcript now showing my DMin graduation.

 

The other milestone happened yesterday —  I crossed 1,000,000 page views on this blog! Which means that Debbie has looked at this blog a lot! And maybe a few other folks, too, I hope. I’ve been blogging here since December, 2006. If I figured this correctly, that’s an average of 12,350 or so views per month. Compare that to an average month in which I preach to about 400-500 people total. Of course, I realize that some people spend 3 seconds or less on a blog site, including mine. But still social media enable us to have conversations with lots of folks in lots of places, and most of the time that’s a great thing.

If you’ve been here for awhile, thanks for sticking around. If you’re new, I hope you’ll check in often. In 7 years of blogging, I’ve made my share of mistakes, offended some, encouraged others, and enjoyed the whole experience. Recently I refocused my blog around the theme of my DMin study and dissertation — churches building communities of reconciliation. Reconciliation is like Will Roger’s famous quote about the weather — “Everybody talks about it, but nobody ever does anything about it.” On this blog, from this point forward, I’ll be highlighting how my church and yours can do something about reconciliation. Stick around. Thanks.

One Million Page Views!

 

Social Media or Social Suicide?

Recently I cancelled my Linked-In and Plaxo accounts.  I had previously cancelled my Twitter account, but now have one under @PeaceFriendsCom to promote my blog, PeaceFriends.Com.  I mostly look at my own family’s Facebook posting and photos, and spend almost no time posting to Facebook, except for my blog posts which go up automatically.  In short, I’m pretty unsociable about social media.

Here are some of the pitfalls of social media, as I see them, especially for pastors:

1.  You think you’re anonymous.  “Public anonymity” sounds like a oxymoron.   You know, like airline food, military intelligence, hot ice, and so on.  But Twitter, Facebook, et al, while appearing to really connect us with others, don’t.  What social media do is to create an exchange “as through a glass darkly” to quote the Apostle Paul.  There is a sense that one can post comments or quotes that would not be said or shown in a face-to-face encounter.  Hence, public anonymity.  How else can you explain today’s “boy-behaving-badly,” Rep. Anthony Weiner.  Either he has a political deathwish, or he thought somehow he was anonymous.  The Emperor’s New Clothes comes to mind here for some reason.

2.  Nuance is lost in social media.  The raised eyebrow, the tone of voice, the wry smile, the sense of humor are all lost in social media.  Emoticons, I’m sorry, are not good substitutes for human facial expressions, even if they do help clarify (“is he mad, or just joking”) the writer’s intent.  I won’t even get into correct spelling, grammar, syntax, and all the other skills of proper writing that are lost, but nuance is a big one for me.

3.  It’s easy to be stupid.  While we might choose our words more carefully in a real-life encounter, social media is a linguistic drive-by shooting — quick, blunt, and irrevocable.  Of course, you can delete your tweet, but that won’t prevent someone else from capturing a screenshot and putting it on Twitter again.  Rep. Anthony Weiner, again, is a good example.

Of course, being stupid isn’t limited to explicit images or inappropriate comments.  Pastors and church leaders need to consider carefully their social media interaction, whether on blog posts, Twitter, Facebook, or any of the other social media platforms.  The now ubiquitous stories of employers checking out an applicant’s Facebook, MySpace, or Twitter accounts before hiring make my point about caution.  Do not think that your social media account is your private business.  If you’re out there, someone in your church or community will be reading and watching.

All of this doesn’t mean that pastors are limited to tweeting Bible verses or Christian platitudes.  But, a good rule of thumb is “if you wouldn’t show it to your ___________ (deacons, elders, spouse, senior pastor, mother, etc) don’t Tweet it.”

“Please re-Tweet this article, hit the Like button, post it to your Facebook accounts, and help me get this out there in the blogosphere,” he said ironically. 😉

‘New Church Report’ Curates The Web for Church Leaders

In addition to this blog, I also edit/curate articles at two other sites, NewChurchReport.com and SmallChurchPROF.com.  Both of these sites consist of links to videos, articles, blog posts, and information applicable to churches.  Today I’m introducing you to NewChurchReport.com, with the following from the NCR About page:

NewChurchReport.com searches the internet for the best of church news, ideas, information, and inspiration.  Four categories comprise the homepage of  NewChurchReport.com:

  1. Spotlight: Videos, photographs, cartoons appear in the Spotlight box focusing on important issues and ideas each week.
  2. News: The left column of NCR compiles church-related news feeds from around the globe.  Sources include Christianity Today, The Christian Post, Christian Today (UK), Ethics Daily, Religion News Service, and others.
  3. Featured: The center column articles feature well-known church thinkers from outstanding blogs and websites. I select each article for its value to church leaders.  While I may  or may not agree with each writer, I find the articles useful or thought-provoking.
  4. Blogs: The right column posts I select from blogs of pastors, ministry leaders, and others whose voices may or may not be well-known, but who have something worthwhile to say.  Blogs range from opinion to practical help to issues of interest to church leaders.

Editorial philosophy: As the editor of NewChurchReport.com, I look for well-written pieces that have something new to say about churches or the issues churches face.  I represent a variety of viewpoints, even those with which I disagree.  I am looking for practical or provocative articles that make me think.  I include articles from secular media if I think those have application for churches.  I don’t post Bible studies, theological treatises, polemical pieces, or argumentative posts.  There are enough of those articles elsewhere.

Goal: NewChurchReport.com will be the go-to-source for  interesting, unusual, provocative, practical, and inspirational writing.  Readers will find church-related articles here that they won’t find on other church-related sites.  Let me know if we succeed in accomplishing that goal, and how we can improve NCR in the future.

Contributors: If you would like to contribute an article to NewChurchReport.com, please read the editorial philosophy above before submitting.  If you would like for me to consider an article for inclusion, please email me the link, not the whole article.  The editing system I use depends on links to the original post or article, so if an article is not on the web at a specific URL, I cannot link to it.  All titles link to the original articles, and all original sites are credited.  I write the “hook” that appears below each title, which may include a quote from the article, or my summary of the main point of the article.

Disclaimer: NewChurchReport.com is an independent Christian news and opinion publication.  NewChurchReport.com does not endorse or promote any particular doctrine, denomination, or point of view.  All articles appearing on NewChurchReport.com are chosen for their helpful application to some aspect of advancing the church of Jesus Christ in today’s world.

Scott Linklater started NewChurchReport.com and handed the job of editing the site over to me in January, 2009.  All content is selected by the editor, and does not necessarily represent the views of the editor, or any person, denomination, church, or other organization represented here.

Follow NCR on Twitter:  twitter.com/chuckwarnock

Friend Chuck Warnock on Facebook to follow NCR posts:  facebook.com/chuckwarnock

We will all be connected forever

“People today are going to stay connected forever,” says Jeff Jarvis.  Jarvis, journalism professor and author of  What Would Google Do? made that observation in a talk to Google employees recently.

Jarvis’s point is that Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Plaxo, FriendFeed, Twitter, Flickr, and a host of other social networking platforms enable people to reconnect with old friends and stay connected forever.  As an example, he talks about reconnecting with his old high school girlfriend — with his wife’s knowledge, of course.  Apparently Jarvis did not break up with her well when he was 17, and reconnecting gave him a way to mend that relationship, and re-establish it on a new basis.

Think of the implications of connected forever for communities of faith — churches, small groups, ministries, mission projects, and so on.  Personal networks that transcend both time and location provide rich opportunities to engage with old friends, make new ones (I don’t know half the people who are my friends on FaceBook), and connect in meaningful ways.

Churches could extend their reach and ministry throughout member networks around the globe.  Projects that need help, resources, people, equipment, and expertise could tap members and their friends worldwide.  Shaun King has a request right now on his blog for help with a high-tech gospel presentation to college students.  We’ll see more and more of that as churches and organizations connect with members’ networks.

Do you know any churches that are tapping into wider networks now?  How are they doing it and what results do they see?  Watch this trend because it will become very important in the future.

Becoming a fan of Jesus

facebook-logo-289-751I’m starting to get into Facebook.   Debbie and I have connected with old friends, our own family, former church members, and lots of new “friends” that we would not have met anywhere else.  

As experienced Facebookers know, not only can you find friends online, but you can join causes, too.  I’ve joined a few causes, let a few other opportunities slide, and read them all with interest.   Some causes are being touted by professionals.  I won’t name names, but they’re probably your “friend,” too.  That’s the downside of social media — insincere friends trying to get you to do something that benefits them.  Actually, that happens in real life to, so maybe this is not so virtual after all.  

Another way to identify with your new online Facebook friends is to become a fan of someone or something they’re a fan of, too.  Which got me to thinking about the whole missional vs. attractional church debate.  Dan Kimball stirred the pot a little with his shot at missional churches that don’t grow.  Julie Clawson fired back with her take on the missional scene.  

But, what’s wrong with attracting people?  Jesus did it.  Granted the thousands abandoned him in the end, but they still got fed, healed, encouraged, taught, and loved.  Maybe some of them got it later.  We don’t know.  But, Jesus is the most missional guy I know, and he wasn’t offended when big crowds flocked to him.  Of course, he recognized that most of them didn’t get it, but he still did what he could with them.

While there is a big difference in becoming a “fan” of Jesus Facebook-style, and becoming a disciple of Jesus New Testament-style, it’s not a bad thing for people to be drawn to Jesus and his church, even out of curiosity, even for entertainment.  

The challenge is leading fans to become friends of Jesus, real friends.  After all, Jesus said to those following him, “You are my friends if you do what I command.”  Maybe starting as a fan can lead to something more.  What do you think?

Networking news you can use

Most of you who follow this blog do it by feed reader.  If you get me on a feed reader, you may not know about some of the new tools I’m using.   I’m finding them useful:

  1. TwitterEd Stetzer evangelized me to Twitter at NOC2008.  Twitter is micro-blogging with a max of 140 characters per post.  That’s characters, not words.  Short and sweet.  Or silly.  Or stupid.  But, short.  But, you ask, how can I “follow” all those “tweets?” The answer is, You can’t.  But, you can search terms from “chuck warnock to “small church” to “happy pastors.” Subscribe to the feed for those and other terms, then anytime someone tweets those phrases you get it.  Helps you sort out the noise from the helpful info.  Plus, the people who follow you are doing the same thing.  Anyway, check it out.  Oh, and follow me here.
  2. Brightkit.  This is a brand-new app that lets you schedule your Twitter posts (I have a real hard time typing ‘tweets’).  Just opened this past weekend, and you can get in on it free!  I just discovered Brightkit, and it will make Twittering much more useful.
  3. Ping.fm.  Ping.fm allows you to post to your Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Plaxo, blog, and other social networking sites from one entry.  Amazing, but true.  Saves lots of time.
  4. Facebook.  Okay, this is not new, but I am just now getting the hang of this.  If you’re not on Facebook, you need to be.  It’s fun and useful.  My wife, Debbie, started a Facebook group called Goodthoughts to do good deeds each day — 49 people signed up the first day!  I had some real problems with the fake ‘friend’ thing at first, but the jargon is what it is.  I order a grande soy latte wherever I go now, and I learned it from Starbucks.  I’m learning ‘friend’ on Facebook doesn’t mean best-buds, but on-line connection.  So, ‘friend’ me here at my Facebook page.
  5. Blackberry.  Okay, I already mentioned this, but I had no idea!  The internet (sort of) in your pocket.  Mobile is coming on strong.  Nokia just premiered their new N97, touting it as a mobile internet device.  Asia is light-years ahead of the US, and mobile everything is there now.  Get ready and get into it now because mobile is how all this social networking stuff will be done — on the fly, not at a desk or with a lappy.
  6. Mobilesitegalore.com provides a template-based mobile site design service for free!  They’ll even provide the domain name, and host it for you.  I’ll announce the mobile version of this blog for the New Year, so watch for it coming to a mobile device near you.

Does all this take a lot of time.  Yes and no.  I consider it networking time, not wasted time, but it does take some time.  You may not want to take on all the social networking tools, but experiment with at least one of them.  I’m convinced that this is the wave of the future, even for church networks.

If you’re using social networking, tell us how you’re doing it, and what benefit you get.  I’m putting together an article on how social networking can be used with small churches and I’d like to hear from you.  Thanks.