Thursday, March 13, 2014

What Is Your Platform?

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The tipping point for social media and the church arrived. When that happened is another inquiry. What it means is yet another.

For the first time while interacting with representatives of several Lutheran and Episcopal congregations, I found a majority of the congregations using Facebook in their communication work. Occasionally a congregation employed another platform, usually Instagram or Twitter.

When talking with servants of the church, I don't find horror; I do see some paralysis. Churches have Facebook pages, sometimes they're not exactly sure what to do with them. Reticence remains about whether the church is contributing to the Apocalypse through its social media use while it invests in social media instead of face to face interaction.

The church has always invested in communication. How do we invest in communication today? Whether implicit or explicit, my new question in ministry is, what is your platform? People in ministry possess an expanded field of platforms with which to communicate with their neighbors. Each person has their preferred method of interaction, a platform. I have a handful of people who prefer text messaging. Another handful are reached easily and enjoy communicating through Facebook. For others it's Twitter. I learn many things about the vocation of my neighbor through LinkedIn. There are a host of other platforms. Occasionally, I find myself actually talking on a phone.

Platform is not limited to digital communication. For one person, I learn about her life through Scrabble, and not even digital Scrabble, but with real wooden pieces. Another platform is meeting at the local coffee shop. Another platform is a baseball game. Still another platform is a small group; sometimes there is more comfort in larger numbers.

Regardless of where your ministry is in its relationship with social media, any form of communication can be seen as a tool to connect with God and neighbor as opposed to being an unknown quantity associated with terror. All that remains are the opportunities to learn the platforms of your neighbors. When I forget who my neighbor is, I consult Luke 10: 25-37 for insight.

1 comment:

  1. Good post, Joe. And the follow-up for me is, "tell me why that's your preferred platform" because the answer provides even more insight into the learning style and personality type of the user. Note: more insight, not definitive knowledge...whatever that might look like!