Monday, May 25, 2009

Online Social Networking - How to use it to reach out & meet new people in person

Sorry for the delay in posting, guys. In addition to my normal busyness, last week I was working on finishing up a D.Min. paper on how to use online social networking for outreach.

When I get my paper in final form, I'll put it out on the web. There was a lot of interesting research, and of course, different parts of the paper have been implemented with the creation of the Missional Outreach Network. We also have also launched a High Pointe Facebook page. These are just the start of this, however!

Two interesting sites that I found in my research were and At the nearbytweets site, you can find Twitters users who are close to you. You can search this group by keyword, such as "Christian," "Texas Rangers," "spiritual," "lonely," etc. and find people with common interests. By following this person, messaging them, you could invite them for a face-to-face get together for coffee or the like. Could be a great way to meet new people. (I thought church planters might really find this helpful.)

A similar type of concept is the meetup site, except it is not based on Twitter. On this site, you join a group based around an interest, and then schedule face to face meetings. Here are the groups close to the 75070 zip code that use the word "Christian." There is a group that meets to discuss outreach. This type of resource sharing is good--much like the Missional Outreach Network. But this can also be used to meet non-Christians. For instance, there is a McKinney Moms Meetup group, a Collin County Progressive Book Club group--in fact, there are 748 meetup groups in McKinney, covering everything from parenting to health to religion to hobbies to business and more.

One of the best things that we could do for outreach is for 2-3 Christians to find something that they enjoy from these groups and start attending one of these groups. (We are much better at witnessing when we have anothe Christian with us, for people can see our love and community.) The mindset must be to really want to be there, to really enjoy the people and interest--and yes, to find opportunities to share faith as relationships build as a natural part of who we are.

Many Christians do not have any meaningful relationships with non-Christians. This is a way to change that. The possibilities are endless.

How do you see that the nearbytweets and meetup sites can be used in reaching out to non-Christians?