Posted on : Sunday August 29, 2010

By Larry Miles

Larry Miles

Inviting friends and neighbors to church was one of the original tactics of local evangelistic efforts. Later, the advent of television brought new and effective methods to the efforts of men like Billy Graham. More recently, groups like Promise Keepers have taken advantage of large venues and effective networks of highly organized disciples to reach the hurting and the lost.

In spite of these efforts, however, those who truly have a heart for reaching the lost and fulfilling the Great Commission never tire of seeking new methods to make their labors more effective. One method that has recently received much attention is called social media.

What in the world is social media you ask? Have you ever heard of Facebook? Twitter? YouTube? Chances are you have (since by the end of this year experts predict nearly 1 billion people will be connected via some form of social media). Nonetheless, in spite of having heard of them, you still may have no real understanding of exactly what they are or how they work.

At this point a few definitions are in order. Let’s start with social media. One of the most basic definitions available on the Internet states: social media is primarily Internet-based tools for sharing and discussing information among human beings. Going further, Facebook is: a social networking website – a gathering spot, to connect with your friends and with your friend’s friends. For good measure let’s also throw in YouTube and Twitter. YouTube is: a video sharing website on which users can upload and share videos. And finally, Twitter is: a social networking service that enables its users to send and read messages known as tweets.

Now with at least a basic understanding of social media, you might be tempted to wonder (even if only to yourself)… So what? How is this relevant? In some ways the relevance of social media is defined by its size and speed of adoption. A few points of comparison might help. It took 38 years for radio to attract 50 million listeners, 13 years for television to attract 50 million viewers, and in just 4 years there were 50 million people surfing the Internet. By comparison, Facebook alone garnered more than 300 million members in a little over three years!

Well those stats are fine, you might say, but I’m just not sure about this whole social media thing. Before you get tempted to write off social media as some new-fangled digital amalgam, remember these important words and relax – What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Ecc 1:9 [NIV]

Social media is not new, they’re just different, from what a lot of us are accustomed to using. If you decide to explore them – and even to develop a proficiency in using them –think of it as a lot like using the telephone, an ordinary communications tool, but one that in the right hands can become a powerful means of sharing the Gospel with the lost.

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Larry Miles currently works as a marketing consultant for McClung Companies, a media company in central Virginia. He has served as the Chairman of Deacons at two Baptist churches, teaches an adult Sunday School class and a Bible Study for a local prison ministry. He is also a published author of Christian fiction. He resides in Crozet, Va., with his wife Michelle, and two daughters, Bethany Grace and Anna Faith.