Thursday, November 20, 2008

Social Networking Websites (aka what you're reading!)

Perhaps you've heard of the Social Networking websites: Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, or Blogspot?? If you have you have at least been introduced to Social Networking, if only in name. They are not to replace friendships, instead they function as a tool that allow friends to connect, connect deeper, and stay connected; depending on the development of the relationship. This is the purpose of these sites; nothing more, nothing less.

As a student training to be a pastor, tools like these present a gold mine of opportunities. The job of a pastor is to at some level, develop the community among the people of God. The process of spiritual growth happens within community - true growth never happens to the exclusion of community - thus pastors should spend more time developing community within the church. Why not look for tools we can use to form and shape the congregation around the person of Christ.

My friend JD, the chaplin here at Asbury, calls this redemption. This semester JD has been attempting to use the Social Networking site, Twitter, as a tool for developing community among the chapel interns. It has been a very good exercise for our team. The concept driving Twitter is the simply answering the question, "What are you doing?" The Twitterer answers this question in less than 140 characters and everybody who follows these Twitter updates is able to see what the Twitterer is doing. At some level what we do, impacts who we are. Thus to know what is happening in my life, you learn more of whom I am. Through the Twitter project our staff has developed a deeper sense of community, that we would not have developed with out this resource.

I am not saying that one must use Social Networking sites if you are a pastor, but I do believe as a pastor it is my responsibility to continue to push the envelope of what we're doing. Using new tools, and being creative with these tools in the process of the spiritual formation of the people placed in my care, is central to my duties as a pastor.

What do you think? How do you feel about these Social Networking sites?