Maybe your church is the exception to the rule. Maybe everyone knows everyone else on a first name basis, knows what they do for a living, how long they’ve been going to your church. Maybe no one could accuse your church of being dominated by cliques and vastly different social circles that never interact with one another. But if your church does experience social isolation, if visitors come and no one speaks to them and they never come back, it might be time to consider how “social” your church really is, and how you might change up that dynamic to create a more healthy and visitor-friendly place.
Do you have parishioners who sit in the same seat in the same pew week after week, and then sit at the same table at coffee hour week after week, talking to the same people? Here’s an image of what that sort of rigid social structure is like: a Foosball table. All the players are stuck in more or less the same place on steel poles. They may move side to side, but they really only move with the same players that are also stuck on that same pole. Yes, they’re on the same playing surface as all the other players. They’re still involved in the game, but they never interact with the other players in any real way.
Compare that with a real soccer match. In a real match, the players are constantly talking with one another, moving in and out of different zones, helping one another out in a pinch. It doesn’t matter what position they are when it comes to the overall goal: winning the match. Everyone works together in a dynamic way, and each person is stronger because of their interactions with everyone else.
So when you think of your church, which image is a closer fit? Are people stuck where they are, and is that hurting the life and ministry of your church?
Social media is one way to break down the walls separating different social groups in your church and get everyone talking to each other. It can level the playing field and help your congregation see that you really are all in this together, that living out a life of faith requires the insight and prayer of all people of different backgrounds and experiences.
Social media can also level the playing field in terms of personality differences. Do you have someone in your church who never speaks up, but you know has a wealth of wisdom and a true love for the church? That person might be much more comfortable participating in a conversation online rather than in person. Have someone who talks a little too much, who always takes charge and doesn’t necessarily seek input from others? Social media can help moderate that person’s good intentions by helping them to see what others are thinking and feeling about an issue.
So what do you think? Where does your church fall- Foosball or the Real Thing? Let us know in the comments, and also feel free to share any tips you have for helping break down the barriers between social groups at your church.