I know a couple of weeks ago I told you about my purchasing of Unprotected: A Campus Psychiatrist Reveals How Political Correctness in Her Profession Endangers Every Student, and what a great book it is….and how I would be blogging about it. But of course, I’ve gotten a little sidetracked. So I will come back to that soon….not that any of you are waiting on baited breath for those posts.

But instead, I’ve been thinking a lot about Facebook and social networking in general. I’ve been having a lot of conversations with others on this topic and it’s something I have put a lot of thought into as I will be addressing this issue next week at GodBlogCon.

I can go down many roads with this topic but the one that keeps ruminating in my mind is the divide between the Facebook/MySpace generation and some of the older generations in the church. Why? Because with online social networking it has brought with it a new type of leadership and involvement in church community that didn’t exist before, or that poses a challenge to traditional structures. Which I think is a good thing.

With Facebook and other social networking sites there is a leveling of hierarchy (picture more of a web) as everyone within the community has a voice and can give input and feedback. There is no longer the need to go through traditional methods. So for example, in the church, students don’t need to have me place a bulletin, plan a social, comment on a topic…rather they can do it instantaneously online and dissminate the information to thousands in a few seconds. It is a bottoms up style of leadership.

I think that’s why I was attracted to these two books as I was browsing through the Fuller Seminary Bookstore.

tim keel.jpg
Intuitive Leadership: Embracing a Paradigm of Narrative, Metaphor and Chaos by Tim Keel

Signs of Emergence: A Vision for Church That Is Always Organic/Networked/Decentralized/Bottom-Up/Communal/Flexible/Always Evolving by Kester Brewin

It was the words in the titles that grabbed me. Words such as intiutive, narrative, chaos, organic, networked, decentralized, bottom-up, communal, flexible, evolving…….

These words remind me of many of the words used in conversations in regards to social-networking.

So bottom line: Why is this issue important to me? Because I am in ministry with students and people who are all online, in social-networking sites, addicted to Facebook. I’m one of those. That has impacted how we do ministry in some ways. The online aspect has carried over into real life as we try to promote a more bottom-up, decentralized style of leadership and participation. Rather than them viewing me on an organizational chart as the top piece, we tend to view leadership in a web, all of us interconnected. And yeah…that gets messy…or chaotic. But that’s where this generation is at. It’s where I’m at. It’s where much of the ministry to the younger generation is at. So how does that work when you are in a church system that is a centralized, top-down model of leadership such as the PCUSA?

I don’t know. It gets messy. To tell a student that we sometimes have to wait and get something approved through Session first doesn’t calculate. They can just go online and create an event and get the word within the hour. Minus all the red tape!

I’m finding that these two varying communities provide a certain amount of checks and balances, but it’s not going to be smooth sailing. But is fostering church community ever smooth going?