We have passed the Information Age, and are now in a time that history will record as a myriad of different ages. One of those, in my opinion, is the Personal Communication Age. We no longer want to sit and be spoken to as a group, but we demand to be included in the conversation. This is why comments are so important after a blog, a video on YouTube, a posting on Facebook, etc. However, now that the very fabric of communication has changed, how can we keep up?
In January of 1989 I started Christian Computing Magazine. At that time computers were devices to store and retrieve information, but they were not communication devices. Much has changed since 1989. Back then the graphic below will show the choices we had in distributing or obtaining information, or communicating an idea.
As you will see, most of these methods of communication were “mass” and the few personal communication opportunities were one-to-one, such as a phone call or writing a letter.
However, now, in 2014, the ways of connecting and communicating with others is enormous! And, because there is no real standard, the opportunity for individuals or organizations to communicate through a specific method or channel is guaranteed to miss many people who are using other sources for connection and communication.
The graphic depicting communication tools and information sources available in 2014 are far from complete. There are hundreds of different sites and services similar to Facebook. Most of those listed on the chart are personal communication sources, allowing individuals to talk to a list, a circle, a group of other individuals but most are NOT mass communication. They are designed to allow you to communicate with a small group or to specific individuals because that is the way people wish to communicate today.
So what does this say to today’s church? It says that the way we have done things in the past might not work today. In the past we created educated leaders who are experts in theology and the Bible and we elevated them in a room with all of the chairs facing forward. Our leader then spoke words of wisdom to those that had gathered to listen. We didn’t provide an opportunity to comment, question or disagree. When we finished with our lectures, we asked people to stand quietly and leave. This is NOT how people wish to communicate or receive information today. This is why most of our churches are empty, and many of those that are full have filled their pews with members who have come from other dying churches. We are failing in our efforts to reach our communities and our nation with the Gospel.
Social media is indeed a great way to expand our ministry and message, but it must be done by our body of believers, and not our educated leaders, because social media doesn’t work that way. We need to equip our membership to share their faith in any or all of the personal communication tools we have today. We need to open up our communication and message through our congregations not just “at” our congregations.