> @StickyJesus 11) demystifying: Facebook

facebook windowIn celebration of Internet Evangelism Month, this is the eleventh in a 15-part blog project discussing the book, @stickyJesus: how to live out your faith online.

As a minister to college students, Facebook is more of a staple in my diet than bread and water. And apparently, I am not alone. At last check, Facebook boasts 500 million active users, with 50% of them logging in on any given day. People are spending 700 billion minutes per month on the site.

Astounding.

In addition to gathering at the local watering hole or sports stadium, people are congregating on Facebook. And, as responsible followers of Christ who take the Great Commission seriously, we need to be there.

Furthermore, did you know that 70% of Facebook’s users are located outside of the United States? This means there are 350,000,000 potential global relationships for us to forge. Jesus calls us to go out into the world to make disciples. But, through Facebook, the world is literally coming into our living rooms.

Because of it’s simple design, Facebook is, as the authors state, “a perfect place for you to begin to work out your expression of faith online.” Your friends are telling you what they are doing, thinking, and feeling on Facebook. This affords you the incredible opportunity to be present in their lives.

Our work in this digital mission field must not stop with presence only. It must move on towards engagement and expression. Here are a few ways I have learned to move into this relational glory land on Facebook:

1) Comment. Facebook makes it so easy to comment on the statuses, links, videos, and content others are posting. Do this. This is where we begin to engage on Facebook with the neighbors we are called to love.

Respectfully ask questions. Lovingly share your thoughts. Truthfully reveal God’s way, will, and Word. Clicking “Like” is too easy. Go deeper by commenting and continuing the conversation. Be honest and transparent. And be an ambassador for the Savior whose Kingdom you represent.

2) Contribute. It’s easy to consume content on Facebook. However, if we are to begin and grow relationships on Facebook, we must be willing to share what is going on in our own lives as well.

This is more than posting a status letting the world know you had PB&J for lunch. We must post with purpose and intention! I am not afraid to share my struggles, frustrations, and confusion over life. I often post Bible verses with some corresponding thoughts. I ask provocative questions, inviting others into a spiritual discussion. I post statuses asking friends to share with me how I can be praying for them. All of these are useful ways to purposefully and intentionally contribute to the conversation.

3. Coordinate. Facebook is an incredibly handy tool for coordinating with others for great purposes. For example, after the devastating tornado in Joplin this last weekend, I felt compelled to action. One Facebook post (combined with a blog post, a tweet, and an email) let my friends know I would be collecting relief supplies throughout the day. Fifteen hours later, I was on the road to Joplin with three trucks and trailers full of supplies and another load left behind because we were out of room.

Behold the power of Facebook when coordinating relief efforts, ministry gatherings, concerts of prayer, or so much more.

I assume most of us reading this post are already on Facebook. Perhaps, though, we aren’t using Facebook to its full potential for maximum Kingdom impact. It all comes back to relationships. We must gather where the people gather. And once we are there, we must earn the right to engage with them and express what God is up to.

A few questions:

1) How does the sheer global reach of Facebook change your perspective on its value?

2)What other ways have you experienced effective commenting, contributing, or coordinating on Facebook?

3) Besides engagement and expression, how else can we move beyond simple presence on Facebook?

[image by Laughing Squid]

@StickyJesus 10) cost: everything" rel="bookmark" href="http://blog.ourchurch.com/2011/05/25/stickyjesus-10-cost-everything/">10) cost: everything <– @StickyJesus – The Group Blog Project" rel="bookmark" href="http://blog.ourchurch.com/2011/05/02/introducing-stickyjesus-group-blog-project/">@StickyJesus project –> @StickyJesus 12) demystifying: Twitter" rel="bookmark" href="http://blog.ourchurch.com/2011/05/30/stickyjesus-12-demystifying-twitter/">12) demystifying: Twitter

Brandon Smith is the Campus Minister at the Christian Campus House at Northwest Missouri State University. You can find all his social media goodies over at about.me/mynameisbrandon.

23 Responses to “> @StickyJesus 11) demystifying: Facebook”

  1. Well done Brandon! Thanks for being Jesus to the people of Joplin. We lived through the big flood in 2010 and one deadly tornado here in Nashville. I know what it means to help and to be helped. In both of those situations, social media was used to mobilize people for action and service. I'm grateful for the people in my church that are in Joplin right now, standing shoulder to shoulder with others from across the country. It's a blessing to many how social media is being used to communicate need and rally helping hands.

    You are right, the international reach is staggering. I have friends in places like Pakistan, Haiti, New Zealand, UK, China, Brazil, and Japan. What's really HUGE in my life right now-I can stay in close contact with my daughter and her husband that live and serve God in Korea. Being actively engaged with all these international friends gives me a real time look into their lives, country, and we have a platform for longer – deeper conversation. (Perhaps you can imagine what this type of connection means to a mother's heart that loves and misses her missionary kids like crazy.)

    In addition to the one on one, I'm actively involved in several FB communities. I love interacting with the folks on our StickyJesus FB page, good stuff is always happening on my church's small group community page, and I treasure the daily exchange among our Haiti mission team members. When you hit a LIKE button for fan pages and communities on FB, you send an immediate message to your friends about what's important to you and what holds your affections.

    God is at work on FB and ministry is happening there. Thanks Brandon for serving others and sharing your perspectives on this file!

  2. PaulSteinbrueck May 27, 2011 at 8:45 am

    Brandon, thanks for your post today! And way to go on using social media to rally people within your circle of influence to help the people of Joplin.

    I love the way Facebook has enabled me to interact with friends and family in between our face to face meetings. I can initiate conversations, post links that present a Christ-centered perspective on news and issues, and respond to people with compassion and encouragement.

    Here's the Facebook issue I wrestle with… Because I post updates and pictures of my children, I keep my Facebook updates private to "friends only." And because I want deeper relationships with the friends and family I engage with on Facebook, I am very selective about the people I "friend" on Facebook – just family and close friends. I don't want the horoscopes and farmville updates from 1,000 acquaintances I barely know to cause me to miss what's going on with the people I'm close to. I am intentionally limiting the breadth of my reach in Facebook for the sake of depth.

    On the other hand, I connect with everyone on Twitter. I also plan to create a Facebook page for Live Intentionally which will allow me to interact with more people who are more casual acquaintances & people I meet online.

    I'm curious how others here limit who they connect with on Facebook. I don't think there's necessarily a right or wrong way to do it, just different philosophies and strategies. What do you think?

    • Paul,

      I take a slightly different approach. I don't limit my friends on Facebook or Twitter…but I do limit the number and types of pictures I post on Facebook and try to keep super-sensitive issues out of my updates (you know, the kinds of things I wouldn't normally talk about with EVERYONE).

      I, too, would be interested in hearing from others who limit their Facebook…and the fruits from that approach.

      • PaulSteinbrueck May 27, 2011 at 11:31 am

        It's not the perfect analogy, but Jesus certainly had different levels of community within his relational circles. He didn't discuss with the crowds the same things he discussed with his disciples.

        If Facebook supported lists in ways similar to Twitter, allowing people to specify which list(s) of people could see a particular update/photo/video and making it easier to view updates from specific lists of people, I would change the way I use it.

      • i find that fb for me is more relational – and so i keep my connections real there… but twitter i follow complete strangers and things that catch my eye… using it for different purposes i guess :o)

    • I am pretty much in your camp Paul. Twitter is wide circle and on FB I am much more careful, based on the very same reasons you stated. I am set on "Friend Only" sharing. if someone appears I don't know, I always check our mutual friend list and what I can see of their profile before I accept them.

      I will follow those that follow me on Twitter as long as they don't cross boundaries by becoming vulgar or inappropriate. I also unfollow people as soon as they unfollow me. (Yes – even if they are F2F friends or friends on Facebook) I must admit I struggle with Twitter DMs that immediately invite me to Facebook. It almost feels like a cyber version of speed dating or something. I never hit that click.

      As far as my Farmville friends – at first it was annoying, but then I realized they are having a great time and want me to be in there sharing it with them. It is just another form of community. Now I haven't signed up – but I feel a lot more grace towards those that do.

    • Paul and Brandon,
      I am very selective about who I friend on Facebook. I also share pictures of my kids, etc on my FB page. I am very careful about what I post. I try to stay positive and Christ-like. If I have something I need to say, that could be taken the wrong way, I call or send them a private message.

      Twitter… I also try to stay positive, but I follow anyone!

  3. Brandon thanks for the blog post today and for reminding us of the huge audience we have access to on Facebook. One of highlights of Facebook to me is that I can link and share resources with people at the click of a button.

    I am thankful for the "sheer global reach" but I struggle with accepting just anyone as a friend on my personal page because I post pictures or notes that I am comfortable sharing with people that I know but I also want to share the things that God is teaching and showing me with anyone who wants to listen. Where do we safely accept friends that we don't know?

  4. PaulSteinbrueck May 27, 2011 at 11:24 am

    "they all knew how to ask me if I had Facebook." <~~~ Haha!

  5. Christie Weatherby May 27, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Great post, Brandon. This chapter was very interesting to me. I am more comfortable with Twitter. I think I am going to look over this chapter some more and come up with some ways to step up my Facebooking a little.

    • Thanks, Christie.

      I have found that I consume a lot more on Twitter than I do Facebook. I love to read all of the valuable things others post on Twitter…but, for whatever reason, I find it harder to contribute things of value on there. Facebook is easier for me to contribute to the conversation…

      Not sure the reasons for this. I don't want to get ahead of the next post about Twitter…but I'm curious if others have noticed a difference in how they use the two (besides the conversation above).

      • Brandon,
        I do have deeper conversations on Facebook than Twitter.

        Twitter is a place where awesome ideas are shared, then if you click through to the blog post, then you get a bit more personal.

  6. Brandon, I love this post. I LOVE moreso, that you are youth pastor who gets it. Great advice from you: "Respectfully ask questions. Lovingly share your thoughts. Truthfully reveal God’s way, will, and Word. Clicking “Like” is too easy. Go deeper by commenting and continuing the conversation. Be honest and transparent. And be an ambassador for the Savior whose Kingdom you represent."

    That you are pouring these words into the next generation is a priceless act of love and service to the Kingdom. You need to take this show on the road, bro. We need a contagious student pastor to rise up and infect others with the power of Facebook in this moment in time! So many are missing it.

    Thanking God for you and praying up your ministry! :)
    :)

    • Thanks so much. These are some of the most encouraging comments I've heard in quite some time! They are some of that "fuel" creative-types need in their tank to keep moving ahead with ideas. (You surely know of which I speak!) I can't tell you how much I appreciate it!

      • Yes Brandon! Thanking God for the gift you MUST be to college students! Praying the Lord will bless ya real good :-)

  7. Brandon thanks for your Joplin efforts, way to go. All for His glory!

  8. 2krazybeautiful May 27, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Good post Brandon…and way to shine in Joplin! Facebook is a wonderful way to spread the word and even mobilize people quickly.

    I love that Facebook has let me reconnect with people all over the world I haven't seen since High School/College (and I know many have reconnected with people from further back than that). My fb friends and I have been through weddings, engagements, divorces, graduations, births, deaths, job loss, major illness, promotions…you name it, together. It is amazing to be able to share prayers and encouragement and keep in touch with each other's lives. It has also been fun to see who has remained strong in their faith, and who has entered into a relationship with the Lord since I saw them last. Then I pray I can minister Christ's light & love to those who haven't found it yet. I'll never forget the first time I "visited" (by wall posts/comments/chat) with friends in S. Korea, Italy, India, Kenya & Switzerland all in one 24 hour period — how cool is that?!

    On limiting Facebook use, I only accept friends that I actually know "in real life"…but that's still a lot! What helps me have time for those relationships? 1) No longer using games and apps on Facebook; 2) Blocking apps from posting requests in my newsfeed – when a new game or app comes along I just go to my settings and block all requests from that app; 3) Checking Facebook a few times a day, rather than all at once…that way I can get on and spend 2-5 minutes checking my feed/commenting/liking/praying and making a note for myself if I need to spend more time messaging someone later, etc. 4) I read my newsfeed most often on my phone – less temptation to spend extra time. Hint: When I post something on Facebook, I usually don't spend time reading my feed, etc at that time… because for me that seems to be when I get "stuck" there for too long.

    What an important ministry "tribe" you have Brandon – Blessings on your work!

  9. Thanks for the post Brandon; you make great points with the 3 C's! :-) I felt a lil pinch as I was reading too, lol! The pinch was a reminder to not only be a reader of blogs, but to get moving.

    The third C, "Coordinate" really speak to me. I love how you were able to use FB to galvanize support for Joplin. As I type this, I'm thinking about in 2 weeks my church will host psalmist Alvin Slaughter in a free concert; we certainly have not used the full potential of FB to spread this news.

    "Perhaps, though, we aren’t using Facebook to its full potential for maximum Kingdom impact." <– I know I have work to do!
    Thanks for the stirring- Bless you Brandon!

  10. I just found this site and am encouraged that you all are seeking ways to share the love of Christ with people in "out of the church building" ways! My wife is great about using Facebook to evangelize because God has given us a platform in the fashion industry through our ministry ModelsforChrist.com and people are curious and interested!
    Also, here is a website that you could check out. It is a bookmark and artwork that allows the viewer to "see" the Gospel: TheVisualGospel.info

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    [...] 11) demystifying: Facebook –> @StickyJesus project <– 13) demystifying: blogging Rob Ross is the coordinator for Oikos Ministries (a network of organic churches). He is a disciple of Jesus (Making Disciples) who lives in Calgary, AB with his family. Connect with Rob on Facebook or Twitter Internet Evangelism Day, search marketing evangelism, social media, twitter > @StickyJesus 11) demystifying: Facebook > @StickyJesus 13) demystifying: blogging [...]