Friend Request Sent
As social media continues to rule the world of non-personal relationships, we can leverage electronic touch into true life relationships and not so subtle perspectives.
Just because I'm too lazy to look for one, I decided to write a little article about the importance of social media in a mid-sized church. Our organization currently hosts anywhere from 500 - 700 people from the Pulaski County area. The mission that has allowed us to get this far in our journey has simply been to 'set up dates with God'. Whether it's meeting someone for the first time, swiping right on an app or just seeing a name on a connect card, opportunities for relationship are everywhere.
This is where the importance of social media comes in. As people's lives become more and more transparent, we who are in positions of leadership and authority are faced with a decision. Do I keep as much as I can about my life private? Or do I choose to be completely transparent? Leaders are constantly being watched and judged. Every face we make, every word we say passes through a filter; 'This person is with Stonebrooke Church' or 'This person determines my experience with Stonebrooke Church'.
With these things in mind, here are my three main reasons to be completely open to new friends and the possibility of 2,000 new people connecting with me on Facebook.
1. It requires little effort.
Trying to keep up with 2,000 new friends seems like a daunting task, but the thing is, you don't have to and you probably don't as it is. Connecting with someone on Facebook enables a leader to move toward relationship without actually having to put forth much effort. As someone who likes to be lazy, this is very exciting.
For someone who's new to our organization, having a 'contact on the inside' can be a very comforting thing. Walking into a place to find a face that you already recognize could mean the difference between feeling at home or feeling like their in a creepy religious space. It could also mean the difference between putting up walls and tearing them down. If simply clicking 'Accept' is the difference between life and death, that's a pretty easy decision for me.
2. Facebook is first and foremost, a platform.
"Availability and accessibility off stage determines credibility on stage."
- somebody from NorthPoint maybe?
Keeping in mind that making the decision to friend everyone you 'meet,' increases at least tenfold your ability to speak encouragement or good news into someone's life. This means that as a leader you have more responsibility and if you're not sure you should post something, here's an easy way to just say no.
That being said, Facebook has this wonderful thing called 'Privacy Settings'. You can put your family in a family group, your close friends in a close friend group and even your coworkers in a 'I have to be in contact with these people :(' group. The beauty of this feature is that if you want to share something but you only want certain people to see it, you can do that. PLUS, you can even customize your news feed if you'd really like to see posts from people you are in closer relationships with. << Seriously, you could be in contact with thousands of people and never have to 'clean up your feed.' One more thing that makes being friends with 2,000 more people incredibly easy.
3. People need prayer.
This is something that we have a closed group for, but more than our regular attendees have prayer requests. A good practice might be to from time to time open up that feed and just people watch. It's amazing how deep into someone's like you can get if you're just paying attention to Facebook. I don't feel like we as leaders should feel like we're on a pedestal, but from experience I know that letting someone I don't really know that well that I'm praying for them has meant a great deal to that person, even if I can't even remember their name. :)
So ya, this is why I think we should be adding friends by the tens, hundreds, thousands! I admit that having 4,000 Facebook friends at some point can be overwhelming, but the beauty of our leadership structure is that we can 'share the weight' a bit. If someone gets plugged in, odds are they're going to connect with another leader at some point. That means that everyone that comes through our doors won't have to only be in contact with one leader and honestly might never meet or know that another leader even exists. Having our first goal of a church of 1,200 in mind, making new 'friends' seems like a great way to move towards community, even if that only ever means they see you online.
Just because I like the fact that I wrote this in three main points, I'm not going to make a big deal about this last one, but it is kind of a big deal. Facebook is a great point of contact. While only even connecting on Facebook messenger can be kind of messy, it's more often than not one of the most reliable ways to get in contact with someone. :)
So ya, go forth and make friends (disciples)!