Social networking is here to stay. You know how I know this? The Associated Press issued an article on Jan. 23, 2009 with the title “Pope Welcomes Facebook, But Cautions“.
There you have it!
The Roman Catholic church does not have the habit (no pun intended) of accepting or reacting to change or new things quickly. So when I saw the headline, I realized that Facebook must be huge to hit the cross hairs of “The Church”.
In fact, Facebook has 150 million accounts worldwide. So what’s the buzz?!?
God created us as social creatures. Remember the euphoria of being asked in elementary school if “you’d be my friend?”. And the excitement the first time you sent an email to someone and they responded? Well, cross those two lines of thinking and you have social networking online.
And you can choose your poison. MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. All of these sites allow you to interact with a chosen few (called friends or followers) or you can open it up to anyone. It’s all part of Web 2.0.
Part of this movement, where you INTERACT with your audience, is blogging. (Remember you’re reading one, so you must like the information in this format) It’s my way of speaking to the masses (not the same ones as the Pope’s audience, but I digress…) and allowing them (you) to respond (called “comments”).
Blogging is not for the faint at heart though. It takes time. And an opinion. And writing skills. However, various blogs take the tone of “sound-offs”, information gathering, what I did today and many other forms. They can be long or they can be 140 characters (like a tweet in Twitter; or a status update in Facebook).
A great book to read is Blogging Heroes if you want to understand more about this blogging world and why the great bloggers do what they do. That book confesses that you have to write your blog knowing that people are reading — however people rarely comment. Some studies say less than 1% of those who read blogs ever comment! (this is a subtle hint… start commenting and you’ll be exceptional!)
So, why blog? This is your way to interact with your congregation! You could do devotions with them each day, you could share a Bible verse and expound on it. Or you could share your heart and passion or world-view insights.
The best part of this is… it’s free! All you need to do is set up a blog area on your website (use Blogger or WordPress for templates) or create a free Facebook (or similar) username and start writing! Then link from your Church’s website to your social networks. Before you know it, you’ll have followers and friends everywhere!
Any words of warning? Well, in the words of Pope Benedict XVI (in the AP story), “But he [the Pope] also warns that ‘obsessive’ socializing can isolate people from real interaction and deepen the digital divide by excluding those already marginalized”.
But I dare say, he wasn’t talking about Pastors, who have regular face-to-face contact with your congregation. But perhaps it’s a good caution. Then again, he IS the Pope.
Let us know if you need help connecting your blog or networks to your Church website!