Back to emergent generations for a day or so. I named the title these misnomers upon which our social networking sites are sometimes called to point something out quickly. Not every generation understands our new found way to connect to friends. Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter are closer to being social experiments than actual social interactions. Now comes the time to raise the more pertinent topics surrounding these.
The current church model for outreach is broken. Most churches believe if we send out items through the Postal Service, it has the best chance to reach someone. Some churches even believe that this and a marquee is as far as they should go. For other churches it is a huge step to send out a monthly newsletter by email. The church is resistant to embrace new technologies and has been skeptical like this for the two millenniums since Jesus ascended into heaven. The church as a whole has always been seeking to shut down technical advances that they don't immediately see a way to use for their good, or that may be used wrong.
Some people think that social networking sites are "of the devil" because they are only subject to bad publicity. NBC's show, To Catch a Predator, spends an hour showing four or five cases in which MySpace has been exploited to target younger children. Because of this, some people never see that the world is really a good thing, we just don't spend an hour talking about the millions of people that have a MySpace that this never happens too. Let's think back to 1439 when Johannes Gutenberg first used movable type printing. For history buffs, you know the first book printed with this was the Holy Bible. Looking at this it established a great way to print faster and more accurate than ever before. This meant that the Bible could have many more published and move out into people's world quicker than ever before.
What if the church would have shut Gutenberg down simply because it had the potential to one day be used to print PlayBoy. All of the sudden, this great invention that can be used to print thousands of bibles, would have never existed. The church needs to embrace the internet and use it to their advantage. Sure, the internet has evil uses, but it's not going anywhere no matter how much we imagine it's not there.
So, why doesn't every church go out right now and create a MySpace and a Facebook page. Have their ministers create Twitters so they can be kept up with. The church will then have this new in to a generation that is unlike any other. They will see some differences but can also keep up to date on what's happening and how people feel. It allows for the web 2.0 to let churches get feedback and interact with members and others outside the church like never before. I feel this will greatly impact church's missions to people in the emergent generation. That is what we need to do. We can't convince everyone to come in the church doors without first meeting them in the middle to find out more about what they like. So, lets go to them, through social networking sites.
I'll continue more on differences between our generation and others before and explain more on why social networking sites are truly going to be the way to reach others on Monday. I don't want to make you wait that long but I just set up the new format so I don't want to break it so early. But let's go and be out there, revamping the approach.