Nils Smith has graciously agreed to share with our readers today on the blog and to serve as our guest for March’s Inclusion Fusion Disability Ministry Web Symposium. Nils is the Web Pastor at Community Bible Church in San Antonio, TX and author of The Social Media Guide for Ministry., available through Group Publishing and in both hard copy and e-book for the Kindle at Amazon. Today, Nils shares on the topic Experiencing Genuine Community Online…
Have you ever felt like trying to build community online isn’t real community? That virtual friends aren’t real friends? Maybe you are even completely resolved that the only way to have genuine community is face-to-face. Today I want to encourage you that your online relationships can be just as full, deep and meaningful as your face-to-face relationships. Our world is moving online and instead of trying to fight that inevitable shift, what we should instead focus on is how can we build the relationships we want in our lives, both online and in person.
Here are 5 tips to how you can experience genuine community online through social media (and you will probably find these will be helpful in your face-to-face relationships as well):
1) Focus on one network at a time- many people decide to get online and they jump on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, Vine, and on and on. They spend so much time setting up accounts that they never actually connect with anyone. Choose one platform to focus on building relationships and then expand from there, as you are comfortable. Don’t try and build relationships everywhere!
2) Spend more time actively listening– too many people get online to voice their opinions, promote their business, and communicate their message. Genuine community has two directions and we all need to spend more time listening than we do speaking. When you do talk let it be more commenting and liking other people’s posts than writing your own.
3) Be yourself– too many people try to be something they aren’t online. They post pictures from ten years ago and communicate much different than they do face to face.
4) Manage your time– Do you find yourself losing hours online or never getting online? Commit to getting online consistently and set limits to how long you will be on. It’s okay to get lost in community at times, but it’s not okay to spend all of your time online and disconnect from your face-to-face relationship and responsibilities.
5) Share what’s important to you– if it’s important to you it will likely be important to those who care about you. Share your personal highlights, favorite places, inspiring articles/videos, funny moments, etc. You don’t have to share everything, but you should share some things.
Now that I think about it, this same list applies to our face-to-face relationships too. Maybe they’re not so different, we’re just more familiar with one than we are with the other. What do you think?
Community Bible Church in San Antonio is one of the largest and fastest growing churches in the United States. As Web Pastor, Nils Smith oversees CBC’s web presence including CommunityBible.com, CBC’s mobile app, Online Church, and all future online ministry initiatives. He launched the ministry of Online Church reaching over 35,000 people each week from more than 400 different cities around the world. Online Church offers online worship services in both English and Spanish as well as Online LifeGroups and has a growing Facebook Community of over 420,000 people.
In addition to Nils’ ministry at CBC, he serves as a consultant to Life Without Limbs, helping to expand the online presence of the ministry of Nick Vujicic. Nils has also been serving as a consultant to Key Ministry since last Fall, advising our Board and staff on applications of social media and online technology to ministry with families impacted by disability.
In his book, Social Media Guide For Ministry, Nils Smith presents an excellent overview of applications for social media in ministry. Nils’ book is an excellent resource for church or parachurch teams and Board members considering social media as a tool for expanding the impact of their ministry. It’s an easy read in an hour or less and provides just the right amount of information most leaders need to move forward. Available through Group Publishing and at Amazon.
O, my! God is on the move and will give His people every place they step out in faith – Joshua 1:3! Sooooo exciting! Soli Deo Gloria!