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17 July 2012

"How Much Time Do You Spend on Social Media?" I Have No Idea.

Posted in Leadership, Social Media, Church

clockPhoto by Candie_NThe most common question that arises when I talk about social media is the question of time. In one way or another, people almost always ask, "How much time do you spend on social media?"

I've always struggled to provide a good answer to that question - and until recently I didn't know why.

When the question came up again during the discussion panel at the Massachusetts Council of Churches conference on Christian Unity in the Digital Age it finally dawned on me:

The reason its so hard for me to answer is that we are often dealing with two very different assumptions when it comes to time and social media.

16 July 2012

Dumbledore is Dead: The Death of Mainline Denominations

Posted in ELCA, Church

dumbledore fallingMainline denominations are not dead. They may be dying. At the very least the way they once were, the way we have known them for the last 100 years, is dead. So why do we keep looking to them for answers to the challenges we now face? Why do we keep expecting that they will somehow roar back and save us?

Clergy waste so much time lamenting the state of their denominations. It’s exhausting and fruitless. And I'm beginning to think that it says more about clergy than about the denomination.

Could the problem be that we are looking for something that they simply can no longer provide? Could it be that find it easier to lament and blame the denomination than to create our own solutions?

14 July 2012

Churches Can Change...But It Takes Guts

Posted in Leadership, Church

changeThere is a whole lot of pessimism out there about the ability of traditional churches to change - and it is well deserved. It seems that while the world rolls on in the new millennium, churches often find themselves debating about whether to move boldly into the 1980’s.

Churches are notoriously resistant and slow to change. And as change, fueled by technology, becomes more rapid, churches fall further and further behind.

However, I have hope.

In my nine year call at the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer we were able to change in some big ways. We brought children in from the margins of the congregation and gave them a central place in worship and community life. We created a growing community of young families that shifted the demographics of the church from older to younger. We oriented ourselves to newcomers and strangers, creating a welcoming and inviting atmosphere so that people commented, “This is the most welcome we have ever felt in a church.” We embraced technology and social media as a means for connecting with one another and sharing the Gospel. We crossed a major threshold in response to the 2009 ELCA statement on human sexuality, and moved toward being a more open and accepting congregation for our GLBT brothers and sisters.

If we could accomplish these things, I believe other churches can too.

Here are the six things I found instrumental in bringing about congregational change:

19 June 2012

Should Pastors Remain Facebook Friends With Former Parishioners? (Social Media and Pastoral Transition, Part 4)

Posted in Social Media and Pastoral Transition, Resources, Leadership, Social Media, Church

facebook friendsThis is the big question in social media and pastoral transition and the way you answer this question has a lot to do with your Facebook philosophy.

If you are among those who see your Facebook profile as a professional tool, you may be more inclined to unfriend former parishioners. Your professional responsibility ends with your call and you can go on to apply these tools to your new congregation.

However, if you see social media as something more than just part of your professional practice - as something about relationship and community building, the sharing of grace in a network that extends through and beyond the local congregation (as Elizabeth Drescher and I suggest in our book Click2Save: The Digital Ministry Bible), you may be more inclined to remain friends with former parishioners. Yet, this raises a set of complicated questions about appropriate boundaries and digital ministry practice.

Here’s my take:

12 June 2012

Whose Sermons Are These, Anyway? (Social Media and Pastoral Transition, Part 3)

Posted in Social Media and Pastoral Transition, Social Media, Church

cotton mather sermonI started a sermon blog in 2006 for myself as a way to easily search and sort my sermons using categories and tags. It turned into a useful service to our congregation, and eventually, with the ability to share them through social media, to many people beyond Redeemer.

I called the blog Sermons at Redeemer, and included this explanation, “Our sermons at Redeemer are our weekly blog. They are our reflections on the ways God is at work in our lives, our church, and our world.” We included sermons by our deacon and guest preachers.

Now that it is time for me to move on I’ve been wondering: whose sermons are these, anyway? They live on the church blog and I wrote them on the church’s time. They represent my intellectual work but they were inspired by experiences within the congregation. Should they remain on the blog, be deleted or live somewhere else?

05 June 2012

Social Media and the Call Process (Social Media and Pastoral Transition, Part 2)

Posted in Social Media and Pastoral Transition, How To, Social Media, Church

god callingSocial media presents those seeking a new call with great opportunity but also potential risk. Today, you must be digitally savvy not only to help land a call, but to manage your digital connections and communication during the interview, call, and transition processes.

Calling is a heady, intense, and disorienting time and often the last thing on your mind is digital media. I’ve just been through it myself and these nine big things I learned.

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