I fully recognize that I am “that guy” in many people Twitter feeds, Facebook timelines and blog RSS. However, this is a very intentional and intriguing mission opportunity I am creatively trying to explore and embrace social media as a starting point to community.
So, while it is obsessive for me to have three twitter accounts (follow me: @wbbarry; @waypointCLT; @F3ThirdF), 2 Facebook pages (like me: wbbarry; waypointCLT); 3 blogs (www.f3nation.com; www.waypointcommunity.org and www.wbbarry.com) and auxiliary accounts at LinkedIN, Vimeo, Podcasts (coming) and such…they are intentional efforts to develop genuine, and not virtual, community.
The goal of social media at Waypoint and in my ministry is to ultimately lead to a face-to-face coffee conversations. I don’t track how many followers, friends, pages hits occur; rather I track how many coffees I have in one week.
Rather than allowing social media to a be virtual connection point, I am curious how social media can lead to deeper conversations and relationships. Where people can really get together and communicate and not banter back and forth on message boards, status updates, and 144 character restrictions.
Most times, I have found that the internet communities thrive precisely from their faux community, where people feel connected but no real community emerges outside of the fiber obtics. It is almost as if there is a social stigma where you never say, “I saw your photo on Facebook,” because we felt like voyeuristic creeps.
However, I have found on a 12 mile run when I guy said to me, “You are Agony? I was challenged by your post about…” or “I’ve read what you have written, and thought I should come check out Waypoint.” Using Social Media as an entry point into genuine community means that we provide people an entry point into our lives, into our thoughts and into what God is stirring in us throughout the week.
By Tuesday morning, I myself am already onto the next sermon topic and passage…how can we expect parents with young kids, people with grueling job responsibilities, people struggling to find employment, those battling depression, whatever the situation to remember what was said for 20 minutes on a Sunday morning.
Its no wonder that previous generations had daily worship gatherings–and they wouldn’t have the distractions of PrimeTime television, Facebook, twitter. So what the Gospel infiltrated these venues as ways for people to pause and consider God.
My personal mission is to equip people for living the Gospel in their places of influence. And I strongly believe that I can waste way too much time on sermon preparation trying to hit that “perfect” transition, or stressing over a precise phrase while I wait for people to arrive into my “place of influence” (i.e. the pulpit).
By taking on a social media strategy, though it could allow the Gospel to meet people where they already are.