May 14th was one of the greatest days of my life.
My wife and I were sitting over a delicious Laotian meal at our favorite restaurant. I was eating coconut curry soup with crispy pork belly and rice noodles. This meal was a celebration. We were celebrating that beautiful new ring on my girlfriend’s finger. That’s right. We had just gotten engaged.
Our food was amazing. Our conversation was mushy and sweet. The ambiance was perfect. There was a soft flicker of candle light…and the not-as-subtle glow from our smartphones.
What were we doing? We were checking our Instagram accounts — talking about who was congratulating us on our recent announcement.
I realized what I was doing and instantly felt some regret. How on earth could I be looking at my phone when the love of my life, my new fiance, was right across from me?
While this seems depressing. It’s the reality of the world. We tell stories online, we watch people respond, then we engage with people.
Right or wrong. This is where our culture thrives.
It is time for the church to start doing the same — telling stories, allowing response, and engaging with their audience.
The church has this terrible habit of being 5-11 years behind mainstream culture, but we are in a place where that is not an option anymore. Culture is moving too fast and catching up will be nearly impossible five years from now.
Social media is not a fad — it’s the language of emerging generations.
People don’t just do social media anymore, they live there.
If you are a ministry or nonprofit with no social media presence, you might as well be wearing an invisibility cloak.
Do churches still hate Harry Potter?
Now, for a different story.
I vividly remember stumbling off the plane and rubbing my eyes. I looked up and tried to make sense of signs with some unrecognizable script on them. I tried to tune into surrounding conversations and I could’t understand a word.
No, I wasn’t having a stroke. I had just landed in southern China in the wee hours of the morning.
I was nearly dehydrated, so I strolled into a convenient store right outside my gate. As I stood in there, I realized the bottled waters were behind the counter. I started asking for a water in English. The blank stare and shrug proved she didn’t know what I was saying.
I did what anyone else would do in this awkward situation — I started talking slowly and loudly. Surprisingly, she didn’t suddenly understand english.
I ended up having to point and make hand motions while rubbing my belly. It worked!
It was uncomfortable to say the least. Not knowing the language in a new culture is extremely challenging. Thriving in that context is nearly impossible.
If you are a ministry or nonprofit with bad or nonexistent social media presence, you might as well not speak the language of your audience.
You have instantly proven yourself to be an outsider who cannot relate to a massive segment of potential people.
It is time we learn how to speak the language, thrive in the culture, and do it all well.
We are going to spend the next month learning how to fight the invisibility and do social media well.
Our team has put together a four part series on how churches can properly use and leverage:
It is time that you honestly do an audit on how your church tells their story online.
We must invite our audience to join the story Jesus is telling in your community and the world.