Today we continue our series on the most popular website in the U.S., MySpace. Last week we asked, “Is MySpace safe?” and discussed what parents can do to make it safer for their kids should they allow them to use MySpace. If you’ve read any of the comments readers have posted to the first 3 articles in this series, you know there are strong opinions on both side of the issue of whether Christians ought to use MySpace.
While some Christians believe we should protect ourselves and avoid MySpace, a growing number of Christians have the perspective that Jesus met people where they were at and if they are going to reach this generation with the gospel of Jesus then they are going to use MySpace as a means to do that. Here are some churches that have created profiles on MySpace.
- Christ Jesus Community – Church, Richmond, IN
- 247Connection Church – Hickory, NC
- LifeChurch.tv – Hendersonville, TN
- College Park Church – Long Beach, CA
Alternatively, some churches and ministries have created their own MySpace group rather than the typical profile. In some ways this seems like a better fit because groups include group information and discussion forums. The one negative of doing a group instead of a profile is that when people become members of your group, the ministry doesn’t show up in the person’s list of friends so group members can promote the group to the same extent they could promote a ministry that was one of their top “friends.”
- Mars Hill Church – Seattle, WA
- Bel Air Presbyterian Church – Los Angeles, CA
- Church of the Highlands – Birmingham, AL
The most common way MySpace is used for ministry, however, is by individual pastors, youth ministers, and other Christians simply creating their own personal MySpace profiles and building relationships with the people they meet. If you go this route, you might consider joining some MySpace groups that have to do with interests or hobbies you have that aren’t related to Christianity so you can mingle with non-Christians.
If this has got you thinking about using MySpace for your ministry here are some tips.
Consider your demographics. MySpace is still primarily used by teens and young adults. Creating a MySpace profile for your ministry makes more sense the more young people you have engaged in your ministry. It may make a lot of sense for a youth ministry or college ministry. For a ministry to seniors… eh, not so much.
Do MySpace in addition to rather than instead of a website. Despite its meteoric rise in popularity, most people still do not use MySpace regularly and never will. MySpace can be used to build community and attract new people to your ministry, but MySpace cannot be considered a reliable way to communicate with people within or outside of your ministry. Therefore, just like when you first developed a website for your ministry you didn’t stop producing printed materials, don’t think MySpace will take the place of your website or eNewsletter.
Duplicate content. Because some Christians do not want to be on MySpace and don’t want their kids to be MySpace be careful about putting content (pictures, announcements, articles, etc) exclusively on MySpace. Doing this will either exclude people who are not on MySpace or cause people to feel like they have to be on MySpace even though they don’t want to or (for kids) aren’t allowed to. You’re better off duplicating content into MySpace that you already have on your website.
Be smart. If you create a MySpace profile for your ministry, it’s probably because you want to reach out to people who are already on MySpace. In that case, you are probably going to want to make your profile public. If you do that, keep in mind that anyone on MySpace can see your pictures and read your blog and comments. If you lead a student ministry, for example, don’t be putting up photos of your kids with their full names in the captions.
Be real. Nobody on MySpace wants to be preached at. Nobody wants to hang out with someone who pretends their a perfect Christians that knows everything. That doesn’t mean you air your dirty laundry for all to see in MySpace, but humility, understanding, and authenticity go a long way towards conveying the love of Christ.
Does your church or ministry have a MySpace profile or group? Post a link in the comments. Got any other tips for using MySpace for ministry?