Some pointed questions for consideration in church social media #wiredchurch

A while back I had a commenter ask me for some pointed questions,  and I replied in a comment,  but have found that this discussion has again fallen between the cracks (or "below the fold";  "Out of the stream",  what have you).

So I thought this might  make a good review/resurfacing/reminder of this

I am still working on this after my initial upload of this post,  so check back,  and I will post notifications on Twitter and Facebook when I add more bullet points or make additional edits to existing ones which provide more “angles” or issues to consider.

1. nature of worship/church and online worship (how it meets/fails to meet the "criteria").

  • Are there elements of worship that tend to get left out or minimized in “online” efforts to “distribute” worship?
  • What attributes/elements of worship are highlighted/emphasized in “online worship”?
  • What elements are/might be enhanced/improved in “online” environments vs  face to face worship? 
  • Does having an “online audience” with chat,  etc.  distract from the idea of a community engaging in worship?  This is not to cast doubt on any interaction,  but is there an element of  “attention” to those around us that is further subdivided? 

2. is online community "sufficient" as "church"? Continuum from "there can be totally online churches" to "there should be nothing online that considers itself church" (and the points along the continuum: online as extension to existing church, online as satellites, etc.)

  • If we have enhanced electronic community in its “online, Internet based form” from its former “radio/TV, one way form” (and I believe we certainly have on that score),  is the interactive aspect of online chat, forums, blogs, tweets,  Facebook, etc. enough to fill that need/capacity for relationship?
  • Is it better to consider “online church” as “extension” to what happens in face-to-face “church” rather than as “come be a part of us online?”  (I tend to fall closer to this side of the matter, although I would leave open the possibility that people will FIND conversations amongst us via search—and Internet SEARCH does allow for us to FIND conversations much more easily—but this also depends a great bit on how we “tag” and identify and open up our “content” to “SEO” — it would be interesting to me to explore “theological language” and search terms;  a “theological taxonomy” study that would help us help people find us when we are “speaking their language” and conversing about things that concern them.

3. what do we need to communicate about the church that would be aided by multimedia? (ie story telling), and the role of Blogging as story telling

  • We need to learn how to tell video stories (documentary on what we do in our church;  what we consider the mission of the church to be;  specific missions in which we are engaging.
  • We need to learn the art of the podcast: figure out how to offer up important conversations which we want more of our people to be having and in which they can engage.
  • Member blogs as journals of our journey  (Elizabeth O’Connor’s books about The Church of the Saviour in Washington D.C. would have worked well as journals, had she had blogs and social media and the Internet back in the 60’s and 70’s and 80’s.  (See my Church of the Saviour tab on my blog and Servant Leaders, Servant Structures in particular, under that tab)

4. what does the church as USER do with social media – ie. the issue of self-promotion vs being a resource to help audience/followers find what would help them in their use of social media as a church member?

  • Chris Brogan in Trust Agents emphasizes that we should point to 9 others for every self-promoting link.  The point is that your audience looks to you to help them find their way,  and that there are plentiful resources we can help them find.  I find that the church and the People of God are a great resource,  as well as many others who are exploring the issues of online community and user-centered apps.  It disturbs me to see church organizations being so self-promoting,  and actually refusing to point to other resources other than their own.,  even while providing nothing of their own on a particular topic. 
  • Church communication entities need to be in the forefront of this.  If they are to be a resource for its churches in helping them utilize the best tools, then it needs to be helping them explore the usage of those tools AND to consider the why and the how and the POSSIBLE EFFECTS and AFFECTS of those tools;  in other words,  be theologically discerning about the medium.  I do NOT believe that the Social Media are always “neutral”.  Remember or check into what McLuhan said:  “The Medium is the Message”.  In our  efforts to use Social Media “redemptively”,  how we ask this “McLuhan-esque” question is important in how well we avoid the traps of letting a secular marketing approach permeate our efforts,  and limit our vision of how Social Media can be utilized.

5. Church’s role as an equalizer/democratrizer/grassroots enabler. To what extent should theology be an "open source" enterprise. How does the ability to interact around texts enhance/change/transform the notion of authority and impact the idea of "Bible" and "inspiration"?

  • This could be dicy for some who hold to a “verbal, inerrant” view of Biblical authority.   The operative question here is:  had there been Internet and Social Media in Jesus’ day,  would there have been an impact on the Biblical message?
  • Many would say that the ascendancy of text (post Gutenberg) moved us into an unprecedented authority ascribed to text.

About Theoblogical

I am a Web developer with a background in theology, sociology and communications. I love to read, watch movies, sports, and am looking for authentic church.

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