After almost 3 weeks in hospitals, we are finally home! We’re thankful to God whose Spirit sustained us, to friends and family whose concern encouraged us, and to skilled doctors and nurses whose training helped us. Thank you again for all the prayers, cards, visits, calls, home repairs, and everything else. We love and thank God for you. Come see us…at home!
“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.
I’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?
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:
- Twitter. Ed 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Download mp3 of Eternal Economics.
The Way Things Really Work
In the best-selling book, Freakonomics by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, the authors examine several interesting economic problems, like “Why do drug dealers live with their mothers?” The conventional wisdom is that drug dealers make a lot of money and drive pimped out luxury cars with 17″ chrome wheels and a sound system that produces more decibels than a 747 taking off. At least that’s the picture the media presents, and the one that’s in our community consciousness.
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