I got an email today from a friend of mine in Shreveport, LA. He thought his content could be classified as a rant. I classify it as a motivating challenge. With permission, I’m sharing his email with the world.
“I have learned that the vast majority of our church members are clueless [about social media]. I’m actually okay with that. However, I also know that we (my church) also don’t know any people outside church. Can you believe that?! We have so insulated ourselves that the majority of us literally don’t go anywhere that doesn’t surround us with other church people. You think I’m kidding…I’m not.THE QUESTION: Nobody is ever going to search for our church Twitter account so they can follow it. Why would they? And since only a few of our people even know what Twitter is, our church membership certainly isn’t going to follow it. So why then should I spend any time at all working on it?
In an effort to tangibly demonstrate to my church the magnitude of the people around us who don’t have any connection to church, I developed a billboard campaign that shows a head shot image of an expressionless middle aged man along with the simple question:
Where can I find hope?
Below the question, this appears: Text GOD to 25827.
This single billboard, located at the second busiest intersection in the city, went up on Jan. 27, 2010. As of noon today there have been 1,214 specific cell numbers gathered from this effort that are not registered within our own database already. This tells me that nearly 25 new people a day, who are nameless to us, are taking the time to stop and send a text message to find out the answer to that question. This billboard is less than a mile from our church.
No effort in the history of this 80 year old church has garnered that number of potential candidates for salvation.
MY ANSWER TO THE QUESTION: There is a lost and suffering society all around us without hope. A high percentage of them actually use Twitter and Facebook. Since I know they don’t have an interest following our church, I’m going to follow them instead. Using the search tools, I’m going to purposely follow anyone and everyone who posts anything on Twitter within 10 miles of our zip code. I’m going to do this with the prayer that some of them will in turn follow us. And even further that some of the people who follow the people we follow will want to follow us (confusing I know…draw a picture if you need to).
In all honesty, much of what is posted on the twitter accounts I’m now following is very objectionable. I want to lead old school believers to an understanding that not only is it okay for the church to do this, we’re supposed to. What I know to be true is the best way to fill your own cup is to fill someone else’s. Since I know these people are not going to come to me, I’m going to go to them.
I wrote (very quickly I might add) a brief statement to this affect on our web site. Let me know what you think.
What do I think? Well done, Allen. You are not stuck on yourself. You are loving others and listening to what they have to say. Well done.