Last Thursday around 20 people crammed in our living room for a conversation about Social Media & Mission. I expected a group mostly of geeky guys (maybe gal or two) but to my delight it ended up been a very diverse gathering, with people as old as 70, about half of the participants were female, some geeks, some geeks wannabe (like myself) and some technologically challenged. That diversity gave space to a wide variety of questions and interests in social media and mission.
The conversation started from the question of why we as followers of Jesus should care about the social aspect of the web. While many of us experience the social applications of the web, churches and ministries still jogging the the “information” super highway by making their web presence a mere online copy of their church bulletin or ministry brochure. Before the conversation turned into one about new cool applications to attract more readership to our “missional” blogs or how to use the web for evangelization and to proselytize, Thomas Knoll who was the “web/social guru” of the night, was wise enough to stir the conversation to the importance of relationships, online and offline. He was very emphatic on the importance on the latter. From then on we moved from the virtual to the real.
Part of the conversation was dedicated to the topic of gatekeepers and their place in the church and in the web. Institutions that in the past were the repository of information and knowledge are not anymore. We live in an age where have access to the same information as seminaries and elite institution of higher learning. Take for example MIT Open Course Ware which offer materials for nearly all its courses freely available on the Internet. So the raw information is out there for us to get. What is needed is a way to process that information in community and with relational mentors. This is where gatekeepers come to play, gatekeepers can bring life by pruning and nurturing by being open and collaborative, or can squash it by command and control.
There were several online tools mentioned that can foster or enhance relationships that we already have with people – i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Seesmic, Ning among others. Tools like this serve to facilitate more conversation among smaller groups of friends for an more authentic relationships, instead of the myspace syndrome of thousands of friends who do not know anything about each other. Thes tools if used with a well plan purpose and mission can foster wonderful experience of collaboration and participation among likeminded missional groups and organizations.
The “organized” conversation ended around 9:30 p.m., but many stayed around for coffee and more informal-networking-get to know each other chatting. Some of us hit the road for some good belgian beer and more conversation at the Die Bier Stube.
Bloggers that were present:
Alex, Karen Ward, Thomas Knoll and Kimberly Knoll.
A good conversation about the need for more “blessing and release” and less “command and control” from the gatekeepers
Me (Eliacín) Dave Laird and Justin Beader.