Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Digital Body of Christ

Last week at Luther Seminary's convocation, I had a new experience.   I had just had breakfast with a friend of mine from Denver who was visiting for the conference.  As we were walking back to campus, he said that he wanted to introduce me to some of his friends from seminary who would also be attending the conference.  He introduced me to his friends Colin and Jeni, who said to me, "I feel like I already know you.  We follow each other on twitter."  I have definitely connected with other people by way of social media and we are friends in the digital world, but rarely have I had the opportunity to meet these friends in real life.  But now I have new friends near Fargo-Moorhead and a standing invitation to visit, not to mention two new badass pastor colleagues.

My life has been decidedly enriched by social media.  As defined by Keith Anderson and Elizabeth Drescher's book, Click2Save, I am most certainly a digital native.  I have had a blog since 2005, have been on twitter for about three years, and Facebook for seven years. I have set-up a Tumblr account, but find that it is not necessary for me at this point.  I don't even think twice about using any of these platforms.  It intuitively makes sense to me.  I was excited to read Click2Save, because my friendship with Keith also came about through social media.  He was the keynote speaker at my Synod's theological conference last year.  I can't remember who friended who on Facebook now.
When the book that he co-authored was official published I sent him a congratulatory tweet. This is absolutely unprecedented and makes for an exciting digital frontier.  Social media is a place for connection and relationship building and growing in the body of Christ.

Upon reading Click2Save from cover to cover, I wrote Keith on Facebook:

"My initial observation is that as a person just on the cusp of Gen-X/Millenial, I am very surprised at how my native context informs so much of how I view the world, take in information and put forth information. I live the world that you talk about in the the text with little or no extra effort on my part. I never thought about how much I post on various social media platforms, I just do so. I never thought about using or not using social media to connect with community, it is just a given.  I would be curious to get your impressions of how the book has been received by the baby boomer crowd and how it has informed your preaching and ministry."  

He responded (I don't want to quote a personal conversation here without his permission, so I will summarize): 

Because the prevailing demographic of congregations is older, and much of the ministry that we do is to this demographic, this book is useful in navigating generational differences and explaining what you do instinctively to an older set that does not naturally operate in this way.  

However, social media usage can also have a dark side, but that is a post for another day.

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