[easyazon-image align=”left” asin=”B008FCXKXE” locale=”us” height=”333″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51TyGIoBlnL.jpg” width=”250″ alt=”Bruce Reyes-Chow – Using Social Media in the Church”]Opening the Channels for Deeper, More Integrated Life Together
A Review of
The Definitive-ish Guide For Using Social Media in the Church
Ebook: Shook Foil Books, 2012.
Buy now: [ [easyazon-link asin=”B008FCXKXE” locale=”us”]Kindle[/easyazon-link] ] [ Nook ]
Reviewed by C. Christopher Smith
Although it is an introductory guide, pastor and seasoned blogger Bruce Reyes-Chow’s new ebook The Definitive-ish Guide For Using Social Media in the Church is certainly a useful tool for getting congregations to explore the possibilities of social media in enriching their shared life. In reading the ebook, I was reminded of a story that Bill McKibben tells in his recent book EAARTH about a neighborhood in Burlington, VT that – in contrast to the common perception of the Internet as isolating people from their real-life neighbors – has used internet technology to connect neighbors and help them live more integrated lives in their place. I share Reyes-Chow’s hope that a similar thing can unfold in our church communities.
As a 20+year veteran of the internet who is always eager to explore new platforms, the bulk of the book that introduced important social media tools was a little too basic for me, but the remainder of the book, in which Reyes-Chow keenly reflects on how and why these social media tools can be used to enrich the community life of the local congregation was very helpful. I imagine that the parts that I found too introductory would be very useful to people who are unfamiliar with them, but who want to start dipping their toes in the world of social media.
Reyes-Chow takes a very realistic approach to social media, not expecting too much from it or thinking that it is some kind magical solution to whatever problem our church wants to solve. The chapter “the dangers of social media” was one of the best in the book, at least from my perspective. Another very helpful chapter was the one near the end of the book, where Reyes-Chow addresses “Questions Every Church Asks About Social Media.” These questions include:
- Aren’t we just leaving people behind with this emphasis on social media?
- How do we know when social media has become unhealthy?
- Do I have to have a smart phone to use social media?
- Is it okay for the clergy to post political opinions on their public Facebook page or Twitter account?
- What is the best way to use Twitter in worship and other gatherings?
This guide will be useful in easing churches into social media practices and making decisions about how best to implement social media tools in their own particular contexts. For me, the most refreshing thing, however, was that Reyes-Chow takes the local church seriously as a real community that can and should grow deeper into a shared life. I tire easily of Christian books – evangelical and otherwise – that completely disregard the social reality of the local church community, relegating our faith solely to the realm of the individual. Although Reyes-Chow does not explicitly address it here, our experience here at Englewood Christian Church – although we are notoriously slow and cautious adopters of new technologies –has been that as we share life together on levels that go deeper than a couple of services/meetings each week, social media is becoming an important part of our daily communication. For instance, as we have several businesses (including The Englewood Review of Books) where a good number of our church members work together on a daily basis, social media becomes a very useful communication tool not only among ourselves, but also with friends and partners in our neighborhood and around the world who are engaged in this work with us.
If you are a leader in your own local church, get a copy of this book. Encourage others in your congregation to do likewise, and discuss it together, focusing on how social media might draw your faith community closer together and help to promote edifying communication. Even if you are an ardent user of social media, I suspect that there will be others in your congregation who are not, and Bruce Reyes-Chow’s work is a great tool to launch your congregation into discerning conversations about how social media can be used as a tool to open the channels for deeper, more integrated life together.
C. Christopher Smith is editor of The Englewood Review of Books, and co-author of the forthcoming book Slow Church (IVP Books, 2013). He and his co-author John Pattison blog about Slow Church at: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/slowchurch/