Church Communications resources and tips from Justin Dean

How I Know The Church Really Is On Social Media

I am an accidental Church Communicator. Three years ago I agreed to help out a friend on maternity leave by sending out a weekly email and writing bulletin copy over the summer. The next thing I know, I am managing 2 websites, 5 social accounts, 2 databases, and more.

The tension within our church of needing to shift the paradigm yet hold on to traditions made me feel both overwhelmed and stuck. I also became disillusioned with ?church work?. Intellectually I know that no one is perfect, but the ?business? of church wasn?t as pretty as I expected, and this deeply hurt me and made me want to run away from instead of to the church.

Sunday mornings went from worship time to work. I found myself in the office instead of Bible study- just trying to keep up and catch up. Gradually I phased myself out of most things ?churchy?- I just couldn?t take it. I couldn?t reconcile the tension-filled staff meetings with the ?we are family? attitude that was displayed to the congregation on Sundays. [clickToTweet tweet=”‘I wanted to quit, like seriously. I hated my job, I couldn?t stand church, I was miserable.'” quote=”‘I wanted to quit, like seriously. I hated my job, I couldn?t stand church, I was miserable.'” theme=”style3″]

By God?s grace, I did not quit. Instead, I began looking for resources to help me figure out how to do my job well.

I found several podcasts on Church communications and listened to them every morning during my workouts. I soaked in all the new knowledge; I could not get enough! I heard fellow church communicators share ?best practices?- of which I was doing NONE, and yet I felt no condemnation. Instead, it felt like someone had finally given me all the pieces to a puzzle and shown me how to put it together. Before I listened to these podcasts, I never ?got? Twitter, but wanting to connect, I began following church communicators, asking questions, and reading posts.

And that?s when it happened. #chsocm.

When I joined my first #chsocm chat (and #cmschat), I was coming for practical health, not spiritual connection. What happened was what I hadn?t counted on. I had spent many months feeling misunderstood and overwhelmed by my job, lacking necessary knowledge and skills, and most difficult, feeling an ever growing chasm between me and my Heavenly Father.

This group of church communicators not only gave me tools for doing my job, they ministered to me. I quickly saw that while these people loved their jobs, their focus was on loving Christ, and that drove them. Just as important, the harsh realities of working with the church were addressed instead of being ignored. The discussions were honest, real, and just what I had been missing.

In the midst of trying to learn to BE the church on social media, I was experiencing it. I saw evidence of God working in all things, His Holy Spirit working through these people. This community doesn?t just tweet with each other once a week, they regularly communicate, connect, and encourage each other. #Chsocm became the small group I needed and helped me regain the desire for intentional worship in my home church.

[clickToTweet tweet=”#Chsocm became the small group I needed…” quote=”‘#Chsocm became the small group I needed and helped me regain the desire for intentional worship in my home church.'” theme=”style3″]

Most of my life I have struggled to find my place-not quite sure where I fit. I know I am not the only one; there are many out there like me and we often find ourselves turning to social media trying to find a place to belong. But social media gets a bad rap. It is misunderstood and churches often struggle to know where it ?fits? in ministry, if it fits at all. The digital community, is no less a community because it occurs on a phone, laptop, or tablet. It is a community, like every other, that has people who need to know Jesus, who need to feel connected to others, who need to feel loved. That is the mission of the church on social media- to listen, to connect, to share experiences in a way that reflects the love of Christ with authenticity and in so doing, help others find their place in God?s community of believers.

(*A special note of gratitude to Meredith Gould for creating the #chsocm hashtag without which I would still be floundering about the digital sphere aimlessly.)

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