Social

I redesigned our student ministry and children’s ministry website, at kidswiththemost.com. Here’s why.

Social media and networking are beginning to make me dizzy.

I received an invite, this summer, to join Google+. I joined. And then I just stared at my profile.

I still open it, occasionally, and have no idea what to do with it. I have enough difficulty keeping my Facebook page, my Twitter page, and my LinkedIn account in sync with each other.

In the previous few years, I have used Facebook extensively as a means of communication, and have used it often to send messages and updates on events. And though both Facebook and Twitter have their functions in sharing personal lives with a vast network, I shy from exposing my personal life on either site, simply because my life is public enough. I doubt very seriously people really want to know when I am out of milk.

Communicating with students, and members, has been made much easier because of social media. But those means of communication have evolved. Facebook was incredibly useful — for a while, at least for student ministry, but the preference of social media has evolved, and some students have gravitated away from Facebook to Twitter, making Twitter very useful — but that, too, will only last for a while. Google+ has yet to prove its usability.

With the average age of a new Facebook user being around 40, and with the most common usage of Facebook from women older than 55, Facebook’s communication ability for broad age groups has seen it’s time. While it is still useful for sharing your life with your network … to communicate, it is fading. The new group feature on Facebook is a notable exception, and communication, through that feature, has briefly resurrected Facebook’s communication features.

Twitter has its advantages, too. With tagging features for those who follow ministry accounts, I can guarantee a direct message to anyone. And the brevity Twitter requires short messages, and those can be read quickly. But how long will that guarantee last?

Communication through social media, then, I think, has almost reached its end. Within one year, and certainly within 18 months, to communicate through social media will be laughable, because, like most everything else in our culture, we will gravitate toward the site that best fits our personality, and our needs, and there is no guarantee that we will all be on the same site.

The only way to continue to communicate online is through a central location, not really attached to any social media site, and I am finding, now, that bringing people to that central location is absolutely critical. So I updated our student website to mirror all of this information.

It is a simple site, no longer heavy with graphics and words and info. Using social media places to fulfill the greatest amount of information, I’ve designed a four page site, with a welcome screen, one page for information on our student ministry, one page for our children’s ministry, and one page for the newest feature of our site — a blog.

By keeping a blog, on the site, I’m beginning to see really great changes in communication. I can update it as often as I like, and, by making it as brief as possible, I’ve allowed everyone, on every available social media site, to find their way to our central site location, and then read the information quickly, and even have time to visit the archives. By transferring the responsibility of communication to the site, I’ve then allowed other social networks to complement what can be found at the site. In essence, all of these outlets, together, form a fairly comprehensive composite picture.

Traffic has increased to the site, and I now have the ability to communicate within, and without, social media.

Now, using only social media sites to inform followers of the site update, it no longer matters which site anyone prefers.

Which, really, is the essence of church. Lots of people, outside of a specific location, being a part of several different groups, but being connected by the one thing that binds each person together, regardless of preferences and pursuits.

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