by Howard Brown, CEO of CircleBuilder.com
In the news and in culture over the last few years we’ve been hearing more and more about text messaging, social networking, blogging and audio and video podcasting. Do you spend time on Facebook? Do you Twitter? Have you used YouTube or Tangle to view videos? Even if you aren’t the chances are very high that you will beâ€¦. and soon! Teens, millenials and about 500 million people and growing already are every day.
There’s no escaping it. Use of “social media” is growing exponentially with every passing day. Over 350 million people have a Facebook profile. In December 2009, over 110,000 billion text messages were sent. 85% of users online have viewed a video, bought a book, and downloaded a song at iTunes.
Looking at these statistics you might find yourself asking, “Can I use these new digital communications tools in my children’s ministry work?” The answer is a resounding YESâ€¦ given that you take the right precautions.
Many parents already have Facebook accounts so connecting to your church or ministry fan or group page (if one has already been set up) can be done through an invite or email. I would suggest using simple common sense when posting in these “public” spaces. For instance, it’s never a good idea to use children’s names, post photos or to post too much detail about specific children. You have to be aware that “everyone can be looking.” Do you really want that?
There is no denying that Facebook has changed the way people connect. It is an amazing collaborative communications tool. Facebook does allow you to put your church and your children’s ministry out in the culture and modern-day digital marketplace. It is great to post events, share positive messages and make people aware of who you are and what you stand for.
Unfortunately, Facebook has become a gigantic billboard and you are competing against mainstream brand advertisers and “yucky stuff” like gambling, pornography, alcohol, cigarettes, music with questionable lyrics, etc. With this in mind you need to consider whether or not Facebook is the right book for your church or ministry. Can you do real ministry there? Is it private enough for you, your staff and your parents? Is Facebook about your church or ministry brand and rules? Can Facebook help you “know” your members, volunteers and parents at a deeper and more intimate level?
The International Network of Children’s Ministry has partnered with CircleBuilder.com to provide a private online community for its members, pastors and educators to enable them to communicate, collaborate and connect. CircleBuilder is delighted to be the exclusive provider of the CPC Groups Networking Directory. In this private collaboration community you are able to ask and answer questions, share best practices, review books, music, games, audio and videos and curriculum and connect with other children’s pastors, family ministers and pastors. !
Feel free to look around the community, get acquainted with fellow leaders, share resources, join in on the discussions, share your thoughts and insights, post any prayer requests you would like fellow leaders to join in prayer with you about, etc! We are honored to welcome you to this children’s ministry collaborative community.
CircleBuilder allows organizations like the International Network of Children’s Ministry to help their members stay connected. Similarly, your own church or ministry might want its own CircleBuilder account way to communicate important, timely and specific information to your congregation and small groups. Members can log in directly or, if they prefer, can use their logins from popular sites like Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Google, MySpace and Twitter.
Speaking of Twitter, it’s best to think of this as being a lot like the Pied Piper. Depending on who you follow they can lead you to some very interesting news, articles, video and resources. So that is a great thing. Conversely, the Pied Piper can lead you into the ocean of irrelevancy, meaningless chatter and, again, some really “yucky stuff”. Do you really care if Ashton Kutcher is waiting in line at Starbucks for his morning latte? My answer? Not ever! A “tweet” (text message) about prayers for Haiti or an event reminder for parents is very helpful and will most likely be appreciated by many people as long as they have the ability to opt in or out of the short 140 character conversation.
The use of social media can help your church or children’s ministry in many ways. The team at CircleBuilder has built a platform to help Christian groups of any size or location build a digital campus/community to better advance participation, membership, volunteerism and giving under the brand and rules that you set. We can help your church and children’s ministry raise funds online (cash and non-cash), connect and know more about the members to better serve them, use modern day digital touch points such as blogging, online discussion, prayer, document sharing, podcasting, online events, in-messaging in any foreign language and time zone you choose.
CircleBuilder allows you to create an unlimited number of small groups with unlimited numbers of members that can follow a set of rules of engagement. Groups can be open or private. If a group is designated as private then access to it is by invitation only and only if you are in it can you search or even participate. This can be useful if you think about staff groups, elder boards, counseling ministries or being able to talk to a parent confidentially and privately about their children.
If you have not yet joined the children’s ministry community it couldn’t be simpler to get start. Go to https://incm.circlebuilder.com/ and create an account by typing in your email address and a password or click the “F” for social media connect – you will be amazed how it works so simply and easily. That’s it! Learn more about why we are working with the international ministry by reading a case study at http://www.circlebuilder.com/incm.
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Howard Brown is the CEO & Cofounder of CircleBuilder.com. He is a national board trainer, facilitator, motivator, speaker and fundraiser. View a workshop video athttp://www.circlebuilder.com/socialmedia