Social media use continues to rise. Pew Research recently put out a new report that demonstrates the proliferation of social media among internet users. The research firm questioned a group of 1,802 individual internet users as to whether or not they utilized any social media platforms. The results reveal that women are more likely to use social media than men. This trend is further demonstrated when one looks at the difference between genders among the studied social media platforms.
- Men: 62%
- Women: 71%
Race / Ethnicity
- White, Non-Hispanic: 65%
- Black, Non-Hispanic: 68%
- Hispanic: 72%
- 18-29: 83%
- 30-49: 77%
- 50-64: 52%
- 65+: 32%
- Less than high school / high school grad: 66%
- Some college: 69%
- College+: 65%
- Less than $30,000/year: 72%
- $30,000-$49,999: 65%
- $50,000-$74,999: 66%
- $75,000+: 66%
- Urban: 70%
- Suburban: 67%
- Rural: 61%
Social Media Platforms by Gender
- Men: 62%
- Women: 72%
- Men: 5%
- Women: 25%
- Men: 17%
- Women: 15%
- Men: 10%
- Women: 16%
Social media and ministry is not something in the future; it’s now. The troubling reality is how disconnected pastors—particularly senior pastors—are from the discipline of social media as a way to connect with others.
When I presented to Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary last fall, we discussed Tapping Social Media for Maximum Ministry. And Church Executive Magazine published by 10 Commandants of Social Media. In fact, if you’re still on the edge as to whether or not you’re interested in social media, consider reviewing these 5 posts about social media you won’t want to miss.
Most pastors are relatively disconnected from social media—a tool that has been used by individuals around the world to bring down corrupt regimes and billion dollar companies alike. When it comes to church, the pastor is likely to relegate social media to the communications director, education pastor, or the youth minister rather than seeing it as a tool he could benefit from as well.
Pastors who do not leverage social media in their daily routines and professional habits leave a lot on the table.
Social Media is not:
- A waste of time.
- Only for young people.
- Someone else’s responsibility.
Social media can help you overcome one of the stinging realities of ministry—isolation.
It’s easy to feel isolated as a pastor. Unless you’ve carried the weight of leading any size congregation over an extended period of time, you can’t comprehend the isolation that comes with the job. After seminary, many pastors simply lose touch with any meaningful community amongst their peers and become so busy that they forget to continue to build those important and necessary relationships.
Most pastors don’t use social media because:
- It doesn’t feel natural.
- They fear public criticism.
- They don’t want to make another commitment when their plate is already full.
All of those reasons are legitimate concerns. But they don’t outweigh some of the unintended—and perhaps unexpected—benefits it can bring to ministry.
Social media can help pastors:
- Connect with other pastors—even beyond your pocket of the world.
- Be inspired by new ideas.
- Stay current with books and resources that other pastors have found helpful.
- Research strategic decisions.
- Stay current with the needs/expectations/perspective of the people you want to reach and disciple.
There is a learning curve, for sure. It will cause some pastors to rethink their processes and maybe even priorities. But Jesus modeled that relationships were key to ministry effectiveness and personal and spiritual health. Perhaps we should follow His example in this area.
Being uncomfortable with social media is not a good excuse to not leverage social media. And for those final holdouts who object to social media due to its impersonal nature, I would argue that social media doesn’t replace human interaction. Rather, it accelerates it.
Social media isn’t a magic pill. But when senior pastors know they are not alone, they somehow find the strength to continue to be obedient to God’s call even when the feeling has temporarily vanished or the obstacles seems impossible to overcome.
What has been your experience with social media? How has it helped you connect with other pastors? Has it made you a better pastor? If so, how?
Ben Stroup is a freelance writer, blogger, and consultant who specializes in topics related to church leadership, giving, communications, and technology. He posts regularly on The Content Matrix (www.thecontentmatrix.com) and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Look around your office. Take a twist in your not-so-posture-perfect chair. Notice the people that surround you. If you are like most, then your viewing will uncover an office landscape that no workforce has ever seen. The moment the first Millennial thrust through the employment gateway, another page in American history was written. For the first time, four generations melded together to become one labor force. The Silent Generation, the Boomers, Gen X, and now you, the Millennials, have suddenly collided to turn the wheel of American prosperity.
For better or for worse, this is your reality. You are not like of any of them, and none of them are like you. Just like generations in the past, you have created your own mold. You do life differently. You do work differently. And just like the prior generations that have entered the workplace, you bring a wealth of ideas into the office. Ideas that are supposed move everyone forward. It will be easy for you to get frustrated as the ideas are not always well received. It will be easy to point fingers and declare your new coworkers as archetypes of a dated era. And through your bitterness, it will be easy for you to miss out on a great learning opportunity, an opportunity that no other generation has ever come across.
Each generation has developed some traits that are worth noting, worth internalizing. Keep your eyes open; watch the generations. If you want to be a great leader, purposefully learn from each one of them. Purposefully seize this moment. Do not let arrogance shun the opportunity to develop your skills, your understanding of leadership.
To get you started, here are a few traits that will become clear through your watching of the generations:
The Silent Generation
These men and women are the oldest of our modern workforce. They followed the Greatest Generation, the WWII generation. They avoid risk, and this may annoy you. But understand their reasoning. They treasure their reputation. They do not want to bring harm to their name. They are humble, sensitive, unselfish, and have a desire to participate. You should treasure your name too. Your long-term success depends on it. Learn from them.
They brought us peace signs, VW Beetles, and green-thinking. These former tie-dye t-shirt-wearing hippies are also probably the age of your parents. Somewhere along the way, a transformation occurred. They are now the most demanding, least easy-going people in the office. And though you may get frustrated with their apparent hypocrisy, lean on them. Out of all of the generations, they probably care most about your career. You will find that their focus and rigor is something to not only desire, but also something that can translate into their concern for your success. Get to know them. Learn from them.
Gen X has received a bad reputation for their seemingly apathetic drive and cynicism. But without them, we would still be stuck listening to glam rock and figuring out how to see around airspace-inhibiting hairstyles at the movie theater. So, thank you, Gen X. You will notice that this generation is more concerned about what happens outside of the office than inside the daily grind. For them, life is not about work. Watch how easy-going they are. Figure out how to implement their understanding of work into your work-life balance. Learn from them.
Every generation has a story from which you can learn. Gather the positive traits from each generation. Implement those traits into your leadership story. You have been placed in the midst of a historical intersection. Do not miss this opportunity to watch the generations.