In light of much, much discussion about social media and ministry, and in light of many writing on online church community, I was wondering what you think of the post below, taken from Collide Magazine’s blog.
If in some bizarro parallel universe I was an executive pastor (or whoever does the hiring at churches these days) and I was interviewing candidates for a ministry position that involved working with people between the ages of 12 and 30, I’d ask you about your vision and strategy for the ministry (youth ministry, college ministry, young adults ministry, whatever). I’d listen with great interest as you talked about discipleship, community, service, outreach, etc. I’d even ask you good questions about how you see those things fitting together and how you’d develop each of those initiatives. Then, when it was all said and done, and I’d heard your vision and strategy, I don’t think I’d hire you if you failed to mention your plan for leveraging social media. At the very least, I’d keep interviewing candidates in hopes of finding someone with similar passion and qualifications who was also social media-literate.
The ways in which 12-30 year-olds communicate and connect has radically changed in the last few years, and frankly, as someone who wants to minister vocationally to that demographic, I’d expect you to understand that. On top of that, there are too many free or inexpensive tools out there—ROOV, Twitter, Facebook Groups & Pages, MyChurch, Flickr, Vimeo, Ning, and on and on—for me to be enthusiastic about a job applicant who is unaware of them and their potential for ministry application.
If I’m choosing between several equally-qualified candidates, I wouldn’t hire you unless without a competent plan for leveraging social media in ministry to emerging generations.
What do you think? Am I overrating the importance of social media-literacy among would-be church staffers? If you are a would-be church staffer, have you thought through your social media strategy?
I was thinking about this issue and realized that there has always been criteria for employment in ministry. Those requirements vary depending upon church, denomination, ministry, etc., etc.
For example, when I was hired as a college pastor they were looking for someone with a Master of Divinity which I was just about to complete. Having that degree told the church hiring me that I was sufficient in areas such as Greek, Hebrew, Church History, Systematic Theology, etc.
But over the years I realized that things that weren’t required of me, nor my degree were necessary. Money management. Administrative skills. Counseling skills. Web 2.0 skills.
The questions for us are, “What is required for us to do ministry in certain contexts?” “What is required in the context of today’s ministry climate?”
Today, I think a certain proficiency in social media/web 2.0 tools is required for ministry, especially as we head into this new century. Now we can debate which skills are required for which ministries, and do all ministries require a certain minimal skill set.
But all things being equal (as Scott noted in his post), I would hire the person who had more social media/web 2.0 skill set, or who at least was willing to experiment and learn in that area. That may seem like a no brainer with all things being equal, but maybe it isn’t.
There are certain intangibles in ministry, and certain gifts that we all have that can’t easily be taught. Preaching, teaching, writing, management, conflict skills, etc. But,
Can social media/web 2.0 skills be taught?
And do you hire based on the possession of those skills or not?
As we become a people that live more of our lives online, I think the expectation will be there in ministry for pastors and leaders to be able to navigate themselves in that world. Just as pastors are to understand the context of the text and the culture of those sitting in the pew, they will be required to have as a language skill set that of social media/web 2.0. It will be like taking Greek and Hebrew, though I have a feeling Greek and Hebrew will be less and less taught due to the availability of online tools.
What skills set are looking for today if you were to hire for your ministry? And is social media/web 2.0 skills one of them?