Courtney Young is a May 2012 graduate of Luther Seminary – MDiv with an emphasis in Congregational Mission and Leadership. Missional, millenial and now, a new mother, Courtney shares her thoughts with us here:
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the church and social media. Partly because I used to work in seminary relations so I got to troll a lot of bad church websites and snicker because it’s not 1995 anymore. Partly because I recently attended a consultation that was tackling the topic of mission and social media. And partly because I recently traipsed through the web to find a new church myself and have been reflecting on that experience. In the midst of all my ruminating, I saw this segment on the Colbert Report.
Yes, very funny. Bags of soup. Hipster websites. LOL. But what surprised me was that even while I was laughing at the marketing campaign when they flashed pictures of the Campbell’s Go website I thought, “Looks like a cool website. I would like to go there.” So what makes me think “cool” about some websites and go “blech” at others? I mean, other than bad graphics and layout.
The Campbell’s website looks interactive and connective to both people and experiences. It is not just a banner pasted onto the internet with pictures of and facts about their new soup. It is not an encyclopedia page about their new line. It is meant to be an experience – an on-going experience. Isn’t that what God’s mission in the world is – interactive, connective, and an on-going experience? How are we called to live into God’s mission through our websites or involvement with other social media?
These are some of my take-aways as someone who has recently gone through the process of finding a new church community to join (not as a pastor). I looked up the church website before I ever set foot in the church building. Even though the information about history and affiliation was nice, what really made me interested in my little church was that I felt like I had found a friend in the pastor. Don’t think only the pastor can have that affect. I could have found someone else there that created that feeling of connection. It’s just that pastors are usually the only ones who get to talk about themselves on church websites.
Now that I have started attending that church regularly, I have not returned to their website. Is that how websites, which embody God’s mission, should function? I make daily trips to Facebook, Pinterest, Blogger, etc. and my little church shows up in my Facebook feed, which reminds me that my faith is inseparable from updates from family, friends, retailers, and TV shows.
How can our use of social media personify God’s presence in the world instead of just telling people about it?
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