Do you speak social media? If you don’t know what the question means or answer it in the negative, your church may have a problem. And your kids’ ministry mostly likely has a problem.
At the end of 2015, only 17% of people between the ages of 18-24 and only 21% of people between the ages of 25-34 regularly read a newspaper. In fact, only 20% of all Americas use newspapers to access the news. Moreover, only 38% of people between the ages of 55-64 daily read a newspaper every day.
What do these stats mean? They are telling us that newspapers and magazines are no longer the driving force shaping the worldview of our congregations.
People are going digital. According to a pew research study, 62% of US adults access some news through social media. And 38% of Americans access news primarily through the web and social media. When it comes to millennial moms, (those between the ages of 18-34) 99% of them are on Facebook. Eighty-six percent use social media to influence others. And 87% percent of them turn to social media when looking for parenting advice and tips. In short, social media is increasingly the largest force shaping the American Culture. If our church wants to reach people, we must speak the language of social media. We must be willing to go where our moms are.
And we have the freedom to go digital. Smart phones are not evil. Facebook is not destroying America. Do people with sinful hearts misuse technology? Yes, and yes! But the technology is not the problem; the people are. We need to address the people instead of attacking the media platforms. We need to use social media to reach people misusing social media. If we draw a line in the sand over technology, we will undoubtedly cut ourselves off from the next generation.
Thankfully, we don’t have to do anything so drastic. Because social media is cheap and easy to access every church can have a platform. As the local church, we can fill Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter feeds with helpful resources. We can promote events through pictures, we can share helpful articles, and we can create our own resources by producing videos, blogs, and podcasts. The Bible is still powerful today, offering hope to all. We just have to be willing to go where the people are.
I still believe that the preached word is still the most effectively tool in the church’s arsenal (closely followed by discipleship). We still need to meet together to worship the one true God (Heb. 10:25). But we must understand that our church members will not wait till Sunday morning or Wednesday night to have their questions answered. They are going to pull out their smart phones and flip open their laptops. And when they do, will they find anything from their church? Are we ready to speak into their lives?