Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Social Networking - How the internet will change how we do outreach

As a lot of you know, I just took my D.Min. class at Fuller on Ministry in the Postmodern Matrix. For my paper for this class, I'm going to be writing about how the internet will change how we do ministry and outreach, particularly through social networking sites.

In just the last two years, how people use the internet has dramatically changed with the rise of sites like Facebook. Today, people have a very public persona on these sites, giving public updates and commenting on each other's walls very personal things. In the blogosphere, we have finally found a way to be transparent. A bit ironic.

The internet also allows people who are introverted to have a very powerful presence, much greater than they would feel comfortable doing in public.People today are meeting first on the internet through sites like eHarmony, Facebook, etc. Two years ago even this would have sounded strange, but today, it is becoming normal. Teens prefer to text one another than call. They will even text each other in the same room.

All of this means that outreach will take place on sites like Facebook and the Missional Outreach Network first. These will be the places where people--both Christians and seekers--will meet one another for the first time. They will openly discuss their faith journeys in very public ways, and will be able to check out the Christian community through these sites. It is already happening here, as we have several who are in Bible studies and part of recovery groups who are interacting on this site.

For instance, I recently posted an article on how our church was helping a man who was homeless by taking him in. Christie, who is on this site and studying with a couple of other people on this site, shared with us her experience of being homeless. I find it amazing and awesome that we can find connections with people whom we have not yet met and share in such open ways. All of this can lead to powerful in person connections.

Those are the issues that I'm exploring. I will be talking with Ryan Bolger, Eddie Gibbs, Keith Matthews, Brian McLaren, Spencer Burke, David Fitch and other contacts that I have through Fuller about how they see these issues.

So, how do you think the internet will change how we do outreach and ministry?