>"The Internet Is My Religion"

>I think this is an important video, telling the story about how one man’s faith in God is replaced (to some extent) by the internet.  It’s where religion becomes the interconnectedness of separate individuals working for good.  There are a lot of very Christian themes that come through this talk and I think it’s an important video to watch.

It might make you tear up.

It might make you want to tell him all about Jesus.

It might make you wonder where the church is in the story.

It might help you see technology in a new way.

You might just agree with everything he says.

(Also, know that you might be asked to offer up an email address in order to watch more than about five minutes of it.)

HT/Matthew Paul Turner


Watch live streaming video from pdf2011 at livestream.com

>Social Media Changes in 2011 and What it Means for Me as Pastor

>Social Media Life - WorkstationImage by the tartanpodcast via Flickr

ReadWriteWeb has an article out, “10 Ways Social Media Will Change in 2011” which I think can be important for ministry and how we look at our own use of social media.  Just take a look at Ravit Lichtenberg’s opening paragraph:

With more than 550 million people on Facebook, 65 million tweets posted on Twitter each day, and  2 billion video views each day on YouTube, social media has become an integral part of our connected lives. But this is just the beginning.

Whoa !!  That kind of blows my mind.

There were 10 changes that the article points to.  I’m going to highlight several that are at least of interest to me.  Plus I’ll provide a very brief interpretation by me:

1)  Social Media Will Be Supersized — Lots of things are going to be connected with each other.  For instance, even right now, this blog post gets put on my Facebook page and all of my Tweets (which I really don’t understand but do anyway) get put on Facebook as well. But then Facebook notifications get sent to my e-mail inbox.  And I can do all of this on my little iPod Touch.  This will change as Social Media sites do more and more stuff.  Says the article:

“By the end of the year, using today’s à la cart solutions will seem as efficient as buying a pocket knife with only a bottle opener in it.”

3)  Mobile Will Become Our Gateway to the World — iPhones, iPads, Androids, Tablets.  How will your church reach those who are getting most of their information and connection via mobile devices and not at their computers at home?

4)  Video Will Be Everywhere — People will be looking at Video as a connecting tool and as a worship tool and as an advertisement for your church.  We don’t do near enough with video.  Perhaps I should learn.

5)  The Next Big Online Social Network Will Not Be a Network at All — People are looking for more intimate, private experiences online.  This can play right into where the church needs to be.  Think of Facebook as a big net…that then feeds into more personalized experiences. If this is true, this is important for the church to be one of those ways for persons to connect in a more intimate setting.

7)  Psychology is Shifting — Not sure about this one.  But I think the following paragraph sums up what the author was trying to say:

As the constructs of relationships, privacy and our ability to influence others evolve, we will also face important questions: How do we respond to the changing definition of relationships? How does the elimination of behavioral cues, only available face-to-face, impact our ability to connect? How does our need for emotional balance get addressed in the face of constant change?

I know this is a question I’ve looked into as it pertains to death and grief.  What does it mean to grieve via Facebook?  Is that enough?  Should we be concerned?  I don’t know.

8. Citizen Activism Brings Back Purpose and Power — Through social media we can actually work together (if only financially) for change.  Haiti’s earthquake.  Tea Party.  Environmental issues.  Obama’s election.  Water.org.  How can the church tap into this for some of its activist issues?

9. Social Business Intelligence Will Heat Up and So Will Privacy — I think we’re already there on these issues.  The “Big Brother” who is watching us is the business world.  Companies want to know our habits our histories and sell us their stuff.  How much information out there is too much?  I think the church needs to have a voice in how this information gets shared. And, clearly, the church needs to be aware that privacy is going to be a concern for people in the church as well.

Well, what do you think?  Do these changes affect ministry for next year?

Read the whole article over here.

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>Utah Attorney General Announces An Execution through Twitter!


Ummm…  Ewww

I saw over at Mashable that Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff sent out a highly unnecessary tweet.  Earlier today a Utah firing squaud executed a convicted killer by the name of Ronnie Lee Gardner.  In the above tweet, Shurtleff announced the execution.  In an earlier tweet, he wrote: “A solemn day. Barring a stay by Sup Ct, & with my final nod, Utah will use most extreme power & execute a killer. Mourn his victims. Justice.”

I can’t say I’ve done “a lot” of funerals, but I’ve done my fair share…particularly during my time in Indiana.  With all the emotions that go on at a time of death, I can’t imagine summarizing in this fashion.  There’s no place for emotion.  There’s no place to talk about, really, life or death.

Whatever Mr. Gardner may have done, there is something about a 140-character message that seems inappropriate as a medium for the announcement.

I would hope this is the last time we’ll hear of this happening.

>Some Advice About Social Media and the Church


So, here I am, “Director of Communications for the Alaska United Methodist Conference.”   It’s a job I inherited just because, at a meeting about four years ago, I mentioned that I thought our Conference Website was in need of a makeover and we could do a better job presenting ourselves to the world.  And the job became mine…with no skills to speak of…either then or now.  So, we started a redesign, which is still a long way from where we’d like it to be.  So, we got ourselves one of those newfangled Facebook pages and what’s that “tweeting thing?”  Oh, yeah, Twitter accounts.  And, for better or worse, I was supposed to be leading in the area of web presence and social media.  (I might have mentioned that there are still no skills in these areas to speak of.)

At this point in time, I’m learning.  I serve a small church in a small community.  While some of our folks are social media savvy, many of them find it gets in the way of their fishing and skiing and biking and all of the other things we like to do far away from a computer screen.  But, I’m always looking for ways to help our churches get into social media and understand it a little better.

It’s in this regard that I want so share something I found on a very beautiful blog written by Brad Ruggles.  (Seriously, it’s beautiful.  I’d love a blog that looked like this.)  The blog is called Learning How to Live and the post title is “Going Overboard with Social Media.”  Brad says we live in a culture and a business environment that can get too much into Social Media.  It can go overboard.  So, as businesses talk with him about getting into it, he often says “don’t do it.”  Here are some of his reasons.

  • Don’t do social media just because everyone else is doing it. Remember what your mom used to say, “Just because all your friends jump off a bridge…”
  • Don’t launch your social media efforts prematurely. Splash around in the kiddie pool before you take off your floaty and jump into the deep end.
  • Don’t do it all. There are a lot of fish in the sea. Throwing a few lines out is good but if you have too many you’ll probably get your lines tangled.
  • Don’t venture into social media without a well-thought-out strategy. It’s an awfully big ocean out there and it’s easy to get lost at sea. Think through your strategy before embarking into open waters.
  • Don’t do social media if you’re looking for a miracle fix. Social media is a tool to help your organization communicate with your fans and followers. It’s not a silver bullet. Jumping on the social media boat will not instantly make you cool, hip or connected.
  • Don’t do social media if you can’t do it well. The social media ocean is littered with the floating remains of abandoned Twitter profiles, under-utilized Facebook accounts and YouTube accounts with one video from 2007. If you don’t have the time or people to do it well, wait until you can.
  • Don’t do it if you’re looking for instant results. With all the buzz about viral campaigns some people think that after their first Tweet they’ll instantly start an international sensation and the followers will come by the thousands. Not true. Growing your presence in the social media landscape takes time.

Now, I have to confess that I have a couple of underutilized Facebook pages and I’m still not sure whether or not Twitter is really doing anything to advance our local congregation or our Annual Conference…although I’ve found a lot of good stuff through both of these.  And, my biggest advice to churches would be to be aware of the time required to do this well.  I’ve  become very well aware of the time this blog takes from other stuff that I probably should be doing.  But I would suggest that dabbling in social media…and therefore learning it…is better for churches than not being involved in it at all.  The social media world is changing rapidly and our younger folks will be well-versed in it…particularly in our more urban areas I think.  So it would make sense, for the sake of evangelism and spreading the message of Jesus that we stay up on all of this.

So, that’s some advice for you.  And do go check out Brad Ruggles’ blog.  As I said, it’s a VERY nice looking blog.