After I got acquainted with blogging and then Facebook, a new face showed up in the social media community—Twitter, which now has 150 million subscribers. It took me awhile to figure out what “tweeting” is all about. Basically you can type a “tweet” (a short message of 140 characters or less) and post it on the Web—something like a quick telegraph message. The beauty is that you can use Twitter to send links to friends, followers, Facebook and elsewhere. It not only goes to one person or group, it goes in multiple directions at once, broadcasting your thoughts and Internet sites rapidly and widely.
What do you say on Twitter? Anything, if don’t mind being concise. For example, when you find a website you like or a blog post that inspires you, just hit the tweet button and that automatically creates a post on your Twitter page. All your Twitter followers can see it when they log on to Twitter, and all your Facebook friends can see it as well if you link your Twitter account to Facebook. This sounds like a lot of work, and it does take some time to set up, but once accomplished it works well, with minimal effort.
I spend 15-20 minutes a day on sending and reading tweets. Twitter is a fantastic source of ideas and other resources. Sign up and just watch the tweets go by for a while. Once again, when the time is right, you will find things to tweet to others.
It’s been said that if you are not on the web these days, you don’t actually exist. That’s an exaggeration, obviously, but it makes a point. People are choosing which church to attend by the look and feel of its website. Young folks are choosing where to go to school based upon the appeal of its website—which is actually an extension of the institution.
Websites are your greeters. When they send a welcoming message to large audiences, your church or school gains positive notice. When your website is lame or stale, that sends its own message.
One of the greatest initiatives of the North American Division is Adventist Church Connect (ACC), now augmented by Adventist School Connect (ASC). Every Adventist congregation and school in the United States and Canada has its own free and supported website, version 1.0. If you want to take that beyond its most basic level, advance to version 2.0 (still free!). Appoint a local webmaster or team to learn the Content Management System—which makes possible a church email newsletter and photo gallery, an automated content feed of top-notch news and inspiration, and all sorts of additional information modules. This might sound like a lot to keep up with, but amazing advice is available through a toll-free support line (operated right here in Mid-America at AdventSource in Lincoln, Nebraska).
So if you get excited about your local church or school website and want to see it become the best it can be, the ACS/ASC staff stands ready to help you make that happen. It might take an hour or two to set up your 2.0 site and then some time each week to keep it maintained, but the effort is well worth it.
Why not make your local church or school site all it can be? To see what some other churches and schools are doing with their websites, I’m listing to the right some excellent sites. Visit them for ideas and inspiration.
Mobile Operating Systems
The latest digital invader of my life is the iPhone Operating System (iOS). Several mobile operating systems exist—Android, Apple, Microsoft, for example. They all do similar things and you can choose whichever one you want—but that choice also comes with a hardware decision. For many years (since 1984) I was a PC (personal computer) guy. Now I’ve switched over to iOS-driven Apple devices. Why? They connect you like crazy. Apple’s iOS connects your iPad and your iPhone and your computer and your laptop and your family—and your church and friends and on and on. Apple excels at connecting and I think they will only get better at this.
Digital connecting is starting to enhance the study experience of some Sabbath school classes. Recently a teacher asked the class to turn to a passage in Revelation. Everyone used touch screen phones and mobile devices to call up the passage. I began wondering what this new way of searching Scripture would lead to, and what it would feel like week after week when people carried their Bibles in metal and plastic casings rather than in leather bindings.
As for me, I doubt I will ever let go of my leather Thompson Chain Reference Bible, King James Version. (I might even arrange to have it buried with me in my casket, if they still allow that sort of thing!) And yet I must acknowledge the stunning possibilities of Bible study and searching on mobile computing devices. So I carry both types of Bible to church, digitized and leather bound. I still read from a paper Bible each day, but I have moved over to studying in an electronic format.
Through time, knowledge and effort, all my digital invaders—blogs, Twitter, Facebook, Mobile Operating Systems and websites—have become good friends. They are useful and productive tools in ministry, and they help me make new friends for Jesus.
Social media resources:
Twitter enhancing platforms:
Websites on social media
This is second in a two-part series. To access part one, click here.
Besides pastoring New Creation and Capitol View churches in Lincoln, Nebraska, Marty Thurber ministers through the social media.