10 Reasons To Learn Social Media if You Are a Christian

Scott Fillmer on Facebook

I decided to start a series of sorts on social media and how we the people of the church body use, don’t use, or outright diss the majority of the world at this point. I’m hereafter coining this series of sorts as the SMFT (Social Media, Facebook, and Twitter) discussion. Part of the necessity of this discussion comes after reading some of Viral: How Social Networking Is Poised to Ignite Revival by Leonard Sweet (or @lensweet), which I would highly recommend to anyone, but should almost be required reading for anyone born prior to 1985. I have written on this many times before, but I do so now mainly because there are still some in the church today who continue ignore this medium, which has now become the most powerful tool in the world to connect with other people.

Much of the premise behind Viral is to bring the older generations of believers (that is those born prior to about 1985) into the fold of understanding in the world we live in today. It is far easier to say “I’m not part of the world, the culture, the depravity of our society,” and ignore everything our world has become, even though we do still live in the world. We are supposed to be the salt and light to the world, not to be just the salt and light to the baby boomers. Many of us do ignore the power of social media in our calling as Christians to go and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20).

How in the world can we make disciples if we don’t know and understand the different forms of social media like Facebook and Twitter? So you say I’m on Facebook, got that covered… well, I would say Facebook is the most closed, the least evangelically available social media tool there is. You can close yourself off in Facebook by locking every aspect of your Facebook account and never be heard from again, what type of witness is that? Did you know that most younger generations are moving away from Facebook at this point (partly because we are now on there). It’s extremely important to get beyond Facebook and into other areas like Instagr.am, Pinterest, Foursquare, FlickrSpotify, YouVersion, Kindle Books (yes it’s social), blogging, texting, and various avenues on Twitter.

[On a side note… if you are only on Facebook, you are not a part of the social media revolution, this is basically pseudo social networking at best. I say this because Facebook is close to reaching saturation levels. Facebook has become like the telephone or cable TV of the 80’s. Once everyone is on there who wants to be on there it’s growth is all but flatlined. I don’t mean if you aren’t on there yet, you shouldn’t get on there, and fast, but If you are only willing to get into one single social site, I would not recommend it be Facebook, I would first make it a smart phone, where you can learn how to access everything the world now takes for granted.]

So, if you are a believer, and think this social media thing is going to go away, I’m sorry, it’s only going to get more and more ingrained into the very fabric of the world we live in. In another 5-10 years it will encompass the world’s population, except for those who ignore it’s existence. For us the church to ignore social media is akin to the church ignoring electrical power and the car when they were invented, choosing instead to stick with candles and horses.

10 Reasons To Learn Social Media if You Are a Christian

  1. Jesus would have used this media (this is a later post, but I will show from Scripture why this is the case)
  2. We are called to disciple the world, and the world is connected via social media
  3. If you don’t learn the basics, instead of you teaching your kids, your kids will be teaching you at some point
  4. By the time you are ready it will be too late (it’s already quite late as it is)
  5. Your target audience are all sitting right there waiting for your witness
  6. How many people in your neighborhood have your talked to (witnessed to) lately?
  7. Door to door is dead. Buried… and greatly frowned upon in our society. Social networking is the norm.
  8. The disciples used every tool to their advantage (they wrote books and distributed them)
  9. The Bible is the greatest social media tool every created, it’s meant to be socially shared
  10. Because there are lost people who do not know Jesus and you may be their only connection

So there you have it. That’s just a start. I didn’t put a lot of references, or other specifics as to where my ideas came from, I will put those in future SMFT posts, and those 10 reasons are just off the top of my head, I’m sure there are a ton more. I beg the church body to not let itself become irrelevant in such an overwhelming way as to not be able to reach our world today. We make disciples by investing in people’s lives, and more than any other time in the history of the world, we have access to more people, to discuss the good news of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ with more people, than any generation who ever lived before us.

Your Blog's Uniqueness Rests With Your Story

What makes your blog (or Facebook page for those who don’t blog) unique, and therefore something someone else might want to read, learn from, or connect with on a personal level?

I’m always looking for ways to make my blog more “authentic” more “unique” for lack of a better phrase. If you blog for any length of time at all you will start to develop your own style and patterns, but you also start to put up barriers to your own writing without even knowing it. Those barriers for me end up being mechanical and personal.

Barriers To Writing, Blogging, or Social Networking

Mechanically, it has to look perfect, be grammatically correct, have a photo sized properly, with a searchable title, tags, and links. This just comes from blogging for almost 10 years, I do this almost without thinking, but it takes time, and it limits what I end up posting. If I just posted whatever I wanted without worrying about the mechanical functionality of the site I would probably post twice as much. Maybe that is a good thing after all.

Personally, I struggle with how much I say or don’t say with each post. It’s strange because Deborah who is far less personal in real life is sometimes more personal on her own blog and its vice-versa for me. I split up my own blog into basically four sections, one of those sections, called the Journal Category where I try to put my ongoing story or walk. Sometimes this works sometimes it doesn’t.

You are What’s Unique About Your Story

All that to say what makes blog articles or even posts to Facebook and Twitter unique is you, your story. It’s like no other. There is only one you and your experiences are different from everyone else. When I write an article about a new piece of technology or a review about a book I read, someone has inevitably already done that. It’s unique in my own way because my experience with that computer or book is different from someone else, but there is something different about posts from the heart about important issues that go on in their life. I love that. It’s authentic, it’s genuine, and it’s somewhat less filtered than anything I write.

I hope those bloggers below take this as a compliment and not a cut down but I have a very short, small list of blogs on my rss feed reader in a group that that I call my “a-list” (which purposely doesn’t include anyone I work with). These bloggers write straight from their hearts to the page. No fancy photos much of the time, no special SEO keywords for titles or content, traffic or stats to them seem basically unimportant, and for the most part design and platform are secondary concerns (although I will say the guys for some reason are far more concerned about design than the woman). I haven’t asked any of them this of course, it’s just a guess.

Somehow they have each individually captured my attention with the genuine manner in which they talk about their life. Funny most of them are woman. Seems that most men don’t want to talk about their personal life too much. The majority of my rss feeds are from the guys, but when it comes to being genuine and personal, the ladies do a far better job than we do.

So each time they do a blog post, I get to learn from them how to be a better blogger and writer, and hopefully how to better connect with other people. A great example of this is a post today that looks at the struggles of deep we get involved in the social networking of today instead of getting involved in people face to face. It’s a great look at why we blog, post on Facebook, and everything else that goes with being alive today, but it’s real.

So I say thanks to them here for helping me to continue to develop my blog and writing in a way that is real, genuine, and hopefully in a way that will connect with other people in a real way. I hope you might take a few minutes to scan through their blogs as well. The list below is their main blog address and their latest post.

Using Worpress Next Random Blog Feature in Admin Page

Wordpress Random BlogHow many features and options have you used on Worpress? There are a lot of options and features that WordPress has put into the program and I try to go as deep into the code and options as I can, without really messing something up, to get to know the ins and outs of WordPress. I came across one I sometimes forget is there, but it is great fun. Have you ever used the Worpress next function? It is very similar to Blogger’s next blog feature where you click the button and it pulls from a random blog in their system. I actually didn’t know that Worpress had a similar feature, located at http://wordpress.com/next/, where it redirects to a random WordPress blog, until I looked at my stats page one day.

Wordpress Random Blog

This feature is located in your blog admin pages, on the dashboard, then the stats page (be sure you are logged into your WordPress account). There in the upper right corner you will find a link to the random blog. Once you click on the random blog it redirects to the url above with a tool bar where you can view the next random blog, view a random post from the blog you are viewing, and a few other options.

There are several different sites that do this kind of random find, StumbleUpon being one, and MyBlogLog is a good one too. MyBlogLog is not really a random blog finder but you can really chase a rabbit by using the recent readers widget so I consider it to be close to a random find. Be sure to join my community while you are looking over the MyBlogLog readers, then just follow the links in the readers widget and see where it takes you.

When you need some time just to relax, give it a try, you never know what you are going to find. The number of blogs that are completely off the topics we normally read are incredible and I find it interesting to see what others are interested in as well.

Find New Blogs Using RSS Search Feeds Readers

Google Blog Search I have read several blog posts here and there that suggest that there aren’t many good ham radio blogs (or insert specific topic here), and certainly not many that are updated very frequently. This may be the case, the old 80%/20% rule where 80% of the blogs on the Internet are just junk not worth your time need help, and 20% actually have good, updated content.

I thought this was the case until I started utilizing my feed reader in a search format, then I found out that it wasn’t that there were no blogs that had good content, it was that I couldn’t find them. Of course some good SEO would help, but that is a topic for a different post. I am sure everyone has their own list of blogs that they look at, but this is a good way to find those blogs that don’t have such high traffic ratings that everyone can find them, (perhaps because it is a new blog on a new topic [like this one] and it just hasn’t built up a subscriber list yet), one ones that could be just slightly off topic of what you normally read, (and there are tons of those) in any subject or combinations of subjects.

If you look at the screen shots shown here it gives you an idea of a search feed on a reader. I used Google Reader here just because that is the one I happen to use but I have seen other examples of this search function being used and might post some others when I get a chance.

If you are not familiar with a feed reader, or an RSS feed, (also called an ATOM feed) you can visit the Google Reader link above for an explanation. What is different about a search feed than just a normal rss feed you would get off a website or blog is that you would normally subscribe to a specific blog’s url not a search string. For example, this blogs url for the rss feed is http://www.scottfillmer.com/feed (you can also just type in the main address line url and paste it into your reader as well and that usually works).

In stead of a specific url, you subscribe to the search term, and the results are all blogs you haven’t subscribed to before and many you probably haven’t even seen.

Here is a short step by step below using Google’s reader and blog search function as an example.

  1. Get Google Reader if you don’t have it and subscribe to a few feeds from various blogs using the add subscription link on the left side
  2. Go to Google’s Blog Search and put in a search term of interest (like ham radio <—- see results from link)
  3. Do not use the term blog in the search, it will narrow the results to far
  4. If you like the results scroll to the bottom of the screen (if not start over)
  5. At the bottom, click on the link that says “Subscribe to a blog search feed for [ham radio] in Google Reader
  6. It will then take you to your Google Reader with the option to subscribe.
  7. It is a good idea to create a folder for the search feeds to keep them separated from your other feeds too.

If you look at the two screen shots here, they show the link at the bottom by the red arrow, and the other highlights the top results where it says related blogs. The red arrow is where you want to subscribe to that feed search term. The results at the top are good blogs to start with if you want to check out the results of the search term before adding it to your reader, but you can always removed it at a later date.

Google Blog Search

Google Blog Search Results

I hope that helps explain how to subscribe to a blog search term in your reader. There is much more to the blog search and I will try to highlight some more features in upcoming posts.