1. More than 845 million users of social networks. The growth in these newer communication tools does not mirror any we have experienced before. It took radio 38 years to reach 50 million and 13 years for television to reach 50 million viewers. It only took Facebook less than one year to reach 200 million users. Couple this with understanding that if Facebook were a country it would rank as the 3rd largest country.
2. It’s where people are. One of the fastest growing segments in social networking sites are people 55 years to 65 years old. More than 95% of the people born between 1981 and 2000 are using social media so no matter what ministry you lead, social media may offer a bridge to communicate with the next generation of disciples.
3. 21st Century Leaders are expected to lead the way. Leading in this millennium may require continually matching skills to a fast paced, ever-changing technology driven world. Although the Message has not changed, learning how to build relationships that energize healthy Christ inspired conversations may help leaders who seek to share pastoral guidance with God’s people. What a ministry shares in a tweet (Twitter), blog or Facebook update could inspire, engage or lead a people to live more faithful lives.
4. It’s a way to say, “welcome.” With more than 95% of Generation Y using social networks, writing blogs, tweeting and Facebook pages may be viewed as hospitable ways to reach out to welcome even strangers in the community. Similar to placing a “welcome guests” sign in the parking lots of churches, being present in active social networking sites helps to communicate welcome to people who may not see an ad in the local newspaper or a listing in the local yellow pages. According to recent reports 24 of 25 major newspapers have experienced significant declines in subscriptions. With that said, where should congregations place “welcome messages?”
5. Effective leadership may require a new understanding. With kindergarden students learning on ipads and some university no longer distributing email accounts, now may be a good time for ministry leaders to explore technology and the ways in which these tools can be used to connect to God’s people. Social media is a new way to communicate. Just like leaders learn how to use telephones and email, now is a good time to understand how social media can help us connect face-to-face and digitally as we touch lives through Jesus Christ.