Jason Stambaugh of Wevival wrote a blog post on the cost of social media which is worth a read.
He discusses the true costs of serious engagement in social media. He points out accurately that the real cost is time. We suspect that the time required to work in social media ministry is the biggest hurdle for pastors and congregations.
The fees to have a social media presence are negligible — less than $50 per year. The learning curve is shorter for each successive generation. Time is often the reason social media efforts either do not happen or die on the vine. We can’t tell you how many church web sites we’ve visited that were last updated in 2009!
Time is the investment. What are the benefits?
This article also points out five major benefits — all of which we have mentioned as well. They make it very clear that failure to find the time is failure in ministry.
- Accountability. Social Media creates a discipline. You become accountable for your passion. Isn’t that what ministry is all about? Your readers will hold you accountable as well!
- Thought Leadership. The Church is accustomed to a “top-down” dialog process. It will take a while for both pastors and congregants to become comfortable with the idea that this model will not work much longer in religion. It may have always been a bad idea. The Jewish faith, from which Christianity grew, fosters a questioning of their teachings as part of their faith discipline. The Medieval structure of the Christian Church, under which we still live, discourages this. The resulting lack of thought leadership is contributing to the decline of the Church. This is not to say that pastors are not great thinkers. They are just sharing their great thoughts with fewer and fewer people because they are relying on people coming to them on Sunday morning. With fewer and fewer people in Church, there is less thinking going on in the pew as well!
- Help. In the past congregations took their ideas and questions to their pastors, who passed rigorous examination from those above him (and for centuries it was a “him”). It was cumbersome to follow any other path such as writing letters and waiting for a response. That has changed! Communities of interest spring up overnight. And they help one another! 2×2 can attest to the power of social media to find help. There are millions of people in the world engaged in social media. Some of them may have answers to your questions on your pastor’s day off.
- Real life connections. Social Media starts with anonymous interaction but can and does grow to people meeting and working together. Again, 2×2 can attest to the effectiveness of internet connectedness.
- Opportunity. Wow! What else can we say? There was never greater opportunity.
So why aren’t more churches engaging in Social Media? They haven’t figured out how to find the time. They are busy doing things the way they’ve done them for centuries. Some of this is good—no one wants their leaders to stop visiting or spend less time on sermon preparation, etc., but to not find time which can bring the benefits listed above to your community is opportunity missed, potential voices silenced, help withheld because we weren’t paying attention to the place where people are going for help these days.