The 2011 Echo conference in Dallas was a great one based on the articles and notes that I have seen come from there. I have no excuse for not being there since I am located in Dallas, but I will be there next year and the following years.
A great article I found from the Echo Conference came from Justin Wise and it was about Social Media Effectiveness (http://joshburns.net/2011/07/28/echo-11-justin-wise-social-media-effectiveness/). Here are a few key points from the article:
- Internet now leads television as 'most essential' medium
- This is culture in which we are doing ministry
- 61% of respondents said that the church website was very important as to whether they would attend the church
- 88% of 18-27 year olds said that the church should use social media
- The stats go down as the age goes up.
- Regardless of age, we're all social networking.
- Top three social sites people are using – Facebook, Video site, Twitter. The rest are blog, private community, photo site
- How are you using social media to create awareness? To get people connected in community? To foster engagement with your online community?
- What is most effective in creating awareness?
- Engaging your online community – 2 different types
- What is least effective? Engaging a broad, public audience (everything to everyone)
- Google analytics just pulled in social analytics
- How often should you update your status on Facebook or twitter, and when should you post?
- Craft your content not just for your community, but for your platform, Facebook, twitter, etc.
These key points emphasize the fact that the internet and social media will play a key role in the future of ministry. Yes, we will continue to do traditional ministry as we have before with the church and the four walls and the pulpit, but there is another facet of ministry that is emerging where an online audience is the recipient of the ministerial tools of the church. Young adults that are online will start to identify themselves with ministries and churches that they have never set foot in, they will start to create an online community that will be an online extension of the church. The church should embrace this transition and embrace online ministry, it's one of the best ways to take the gospel to the four corners of the earth and fulfill the Great Commission.