And the ministry implications for future outreach in the church.
Recently Facebook changed its corporate name to Meta. It wasn’t just a name change, but rather a nod to where social media is going and what the future will look like. If you watched Mark Zuckerburg’s keynote you could easily get lost in all the technology that he presented. However, these new advancements that Facebook is presenting are nods to how social media is changing.
You may think that these changes will have little impact on your church. For the immediate time being, you would be correct. However, over the next few years we’re going to see a significant shift in how social media is used by the people who are attending our churches. Here are two ways that social media is changing:
Social media is becoming more private.
One of key things that social media companies are focusing on is how they can get you to share more of your life online. Whether it’s Instagram posts, stories or reels, the goal is for you to put more of your life online and thereby create more content for others to consume.
However, social media companies are discovering that young adults prefer to share content in friend groups versus to the whole world. One specific example of this is the increase in the usage of Apple’s messaging platform iMessage. Facebook has cited iMessage as a competitor for Facebook due to young adults preferring to share content to a select group of people.
The implication for the church is that while most older generations share their lives more freely on Facebook and Instagram, which can lead to more ministry opportunities, young adults are less willing to let you into their personal lives. Yes, young adults will still do TikTok dances and post images of coffee on Instagram, but they will keep the more intimate, real parts of their life for their close friends.
This means that you as a minister will need to focus on how you can best equip your people to have one-on-one conversations with people versus focusing on how many people saw last Sunday’s worship service on Facebook live.
Social media is fading into the background.
When computers were first introduced to the public, it was very easy to separate your digital world and your physical world. However, with the proliferation of devices that we use to monitor our steps (Apple Watch, Fitbit), our homes (Ring Doorbells) and kids (Disney’s Circle), we’re now in an era where you can’t escape technology. It’s so abundant that it is almost like it’s in the background of everywhere you go.
Social media is now fading into the background as well. Yes, we still actively consume it and create content to put on our social media accounts. However, the act of consuming and creating has become so routine it’s now just a natural extension of everything we do. In fact, it’s gotten to the point where if we don’t post a photo of an event on social media then it seems odd.
This change presents some challenges for churches. First, if social media is becoming so ubiquitous, then how do we break through the noise and get people’s attention? Second, how do we make sure that we don’t elevate social media to the point where it takes a higher priority than meeting the needs of our congregations?
Churches will need to address these problems in the next few years. There isn’t a quick fix, but there’s an opportunity to create a culture where social media supports ministry and not the other way around.
Social media is changing, but that’s nothing new. Facebook along with all of the social media companies will continue to find ways to get your attention and get you to share your life online. The question is, how will you prepare your church to disciple those who are online as well?
This article originally appeared on ChurchAnswers.com and is reposted here by permission.