Find It Only Here On Friday: The Cultural Shift

Meghan Howard is married to John, mother to the two most amazing kids ever
and is called to be an authentic disciple for Jesus –
who reminds people they are beautiful and sacred because God created them that way.
Meghan serves as Associate Pastor of Fairborn UMC in Fairborn, Ohio
and is a Doctoral Graduate from UTS who finds herself passionate
about the use of Digital and Social media within the church’s evangelistic efforts.
She recently just released her first book Digital Jesus.

Meghan is also an inspiring regular contributor (LifeWriter) here at LifeLetter Café
and is today’s featured contributor to “Find It Only Here On Friday.”
Her Café exclusive “The Cultural Shift” can be found below . . BUT FIRST . .
the Café thought you just might want to know how an Encouragement Leader
like Meghan Howard has herself been encouraged in her own faith recently.

In her own words…

Thomas Jefferson once said that, “Every generation needs a revolution.”
I cannot remember when I first heard or read that quote,
but I remember thinking I want to be part of a revolution.
I didn’t know what revolution I wanted to be part of, but nonetheless I wanted to be part
of a movement that changed things and caused others to look in wonder and awe at what was happening.

I recently traveled to Atlanta for a one-day conference on social media and the church –
That Church Conference aka #ThatCC.  I highly recommend the conference –
it was by far one of the best I have ever attended – and I have been to many.

So here are two really big insights I gained from That Church Conference
from some of the most grace-filled and humble people I have ever met.

I am part of the revolution.
I loved what Chris Dunagan said, “I am God’s plan for reaching God’s people.”
I cannot even begin to explain how nice it was to hear that statement.
It was also a blessing to be sitting in a room of people that get “It.”
That “It” is that the church needs – desperately needs – to be a voice in the world of social media.

I got hit with a Holy Ouch within the first 15 minutes.
I feel like I needed to give Van Baird a high-five for that. 15 minutes into the conference
and I had already gotten my money’s worth.
He said something that hit me right to the core.
It wasn’t anything I didn’t already know, but something that sometimes gets lost –
even when I’m managing a church account.
Van said,“If you are not using social media to point people to Jesus, you are failing.”
Just go ahead and tweet that – I will give you a minute.

This statement was a stark reminder that my number one goal, especially for the church,
is to use this incredible tool I have at my fingertips to point people to Jesus.
Sometimes in the midst of promoting an event or trying to get people to read an article
there is a tendency to turn off Jesus and turn on the data and the marketing magic.
Jesus is enough – and when we share Jesus, the data will follow.

Today’s Find It Only Here On Friday
“The Cultural Shift”
by Meghan Howard

In every age and culture …

the church has found a way to successfully communicate and proclaim the Gospel message. The success of the church’s communication method(s) is evident by the number of lives that have been influenced and transformed over the years because of the proclamation of this message. However, there eventually comes a time in every age and culture when it is necessary to reconsider how we communicate and in turn how we proclaim a life saving message.In the early 1400’s Johannes Guttenberg realized the cultural shift and in turn invented the printing press. Capitalizing on Guttenberg’s invention, Martin Luther leveraged this new method of communication to broadcast his message. The result of Luther’s effort was the Protestant Reformation, and in turn drastically changed the course of Christianity in Europe.

So what do Guttenberg and Luther have to do with Social Media?

Everything.

They set the precedence that the method can be changed and drastically influence how culture communicates and interacts with one another.

Let us fast-forward about 500 years to the year 2004 when a Harvard student made a new kind of history.

 


The Social Media Revolution …

In 2004 Digital Communication took the ultimate leap when Harvard student, Mark Zukerberg created a small online community called Facebook. What was supposed to be for Harvard students only, exploded within months. In less than a year, Zukerberg’s online community had grown from a few hundred to 1 million people registered on Facebook.

Facebook, however, was thought to be a mere fad, and most marketing strategists asserted Facebook would eventually take the same course as myspace.com and enter into the “what once was” category. Conversely, Facebook ended up being the catalyst that set in motion the social media revolution. The move from printed material to digital began the communication shift and whether we realize it or not, we are in the midst of one of the greatest shifts in communication this world has seen since the printing press.

I love what Tim Schraeder, community manager at The Grid stated at the recent That Church Conference, “What the printing press did for Luther, smartphones will do for our own generation in the church.”

We literally have the power to go into all the world in the palm of our hands. Talk about being the hands and feet of Jesus.

It has been eleven years since Mark Zukerberg created Facebook, and now the social media giant has more than 1.4 Billion active monthly users. Based on population alone, Facebook has surpassed China and India, and if considered a country Facebook would be the largest (most populous) country on the planet. Social media is far more than Facebook. In fact according to the Social Media Revolution 2015 statistics, seven social media networks are considered in the top ten of most populous countries.

These statistics are a mere glimpse of the reach social media has had in the past decade, and according to marketers these statistics will continue to rise. These statistics matter for those of us in the church because the statistics equal people, and people matter because Jesus matters.

 

 

 

Social Media and the Church

In May of 2015 I walked down an isle and received a Doctor of Ministry degree. I do not mention this to gain thousands of accolades, nor do I want to lord my education over you.I tell you this because I spent the last three years, and more money than I like to admit, to research data trends, marketing analysis, digital communication, social characteristic and patterns, the history of communication, the printing press, the protestant reformation, and evangelism and the role digital can play in the church’s communication efforts. I even did a case study within my own church testing whether or not social media was a viable tool for the church to use. I won’t go into all the data and findings here, but know it was a fruitful study. You can check out the detailed information in my book: Digital Jesus.

I did all of this because I believe when Jesus told his disciples to “go into all the world” he meant entering and communicating into ALL the world – both the physical and digital.

There is an incredible power in digital and social media that we are just now tapping into and the world is longing for something good to come across their news feeds. Through social media the church has the opportunity to engage with people all throughout the week, not just for an hour on Sunday morning.

So a lot of people have asked me, why social media? Why should a church invest time, effort and energy into social media?

My answer is simple: because people need Jesus and we have been commanded to, “Go.”

Social media has indeed changed the cultural landscape and methods of communication, but it has not changed the salvific message of the Gospel.

The church still has the only message that can transform lives – but we must continue communicating that message in the language that culture is speaking.

Now is the time

Now is the time for us to begin leveraging digital and social media communication as a means of evangelism and outreach – because when it all comes down to it, people need Jesus, and we have been commanded to, “Go into all the world” with the message that can change their lives.

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About the author : Meghan Howard

Called to be an authentic disciple for Jesus - who reminds people they are beautiful and sacred because God created them that way. Wife. Mom. Pastor. Doctor of Ministry in Evangelism via Digital and Social Media. Musician. Cycling Instructor. Athlete.

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