06.18.13

Infographic on The Rise Of The @Pastor   by Barna Group

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“Social media is here to stay, especially as younger leaders come to be senior pastors,” comments David Kinnaman, president of Barna Group and the director of the Barna study on social media. “While many churches have embraced the platform in recent years, there are plenty who haven’t. The research suggests many faith leaders and churches are still resistant to social media or are using it without realizing its full potential. For example, at its best, Twitter helps people have real-time conversations about ideas and events that are important to them. Yet many churches don’t allow for a two-way engagement—using it instead as merely a vehicle for announcements. While many churches may be uncomfortable encouraging such digital interactions during their worship service, there are plenty of ways to engage with people and events (both local and global) on Twitter throughout the week.

“When used properly, social media should make organizations and leaders more transparent and more connected with the people they lead. In other words, using social media properly should make leaders more social. These platforms should be used to facilitate a conversation, not simply be a broadcast tool.

“Even as faith leaders take social media tools more seriously, there are at least two challenges. The first is to believe what happens in the digital space doesn’t count as real ministry. Most churches seem to be realizing this would be like shutting off the telephone or not having email. The equal and opposite reaction is also incorrect: to prioritize digital efforts above others and to equate digital tallies as indicators of ministry success. For example, the number of Twitter followers is not the same thing as a discipleship headcount. Learning to fine-tune the tension between these extremes—and dozens of related digital-ministry challenges—will be critical in the months and years ahead.”

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