Here's a confession to begin with. I am not a huge user of Facebook. When I was a pastor of a large church in Colorado, I didn't use Facebook because as a person in a very public "call", I wanted to preserve some sense of privacy in my personal life. Now that I am in a New Church Development, to be honest, I just don't have the time. But Mission Street has made a concerted effort to have a decided presence on Facebook. Each week we have a team of people who regularly post videos, quotes, comments, pictures, sayings, thoughts, and queries on Facebook. And what we have discovered is a whole new avenue and form of ministry that could be called:
It is incredible how many people interface with Mission Street Church through Facebook. Chances are you are reading this blogpost through a link on Facebook. Last week we had over 700 viewers log-on to videos of messages that we produce in house and that are posted on Facebook. The viewers who watched hailed from Denmark, Norway, Russia, Portugal, and China. In one of the most exciting Facebook interactions in our church, one of our regular attendees became a Christ follower this past week, and rather than stand up in church to declare their faith (as has been done for centuries), they simply posted their newly discovered relationship with Christ on Facebook.
Many books have actually been written about this recent trend in church life. Jesse Rice has recently written a book called, "The Church of Facebook: How the Hyperconnected Are Redefining Community."
In case you aren't aware of the latest major conversation that is taking place in church circles (kudos to you if you aren't), according to some experts, there are two kinds of churches in the world: there are "Attractional Churches" and there are "Missional Churches". Attractional Churches are those that seek to attract people to their church. Attraction churches often feature the church building itself, the programming, the messages offered, the music program, the staff, or the general church ambiance as a way to lure people to a church. On the other hand, there are "Missional Churches". Missional churches seek to send people out. They attempt to see a community as a mission field, rather than a future pool of attendees. Missional churches are more diffuse, less easy to enumerate or define. The weight and preference in recent years seems to have fallen upon the Missional church movement.
Mission Street seeks to be both Missional and Attractional. We have many Missional elements: we meet in a movie theater on Sunday, we have Bible studies in restaurants, our office is in a public communal business space, our counseling appointments are often in coffee shops, and the list goes on. On the other hand we have many Attractional dynamics: We send out postcards for big worship services, we have radio ads which invite future attendees to the theater, and we have fabulous music and worship ministry each weekend that we know for a fact people are drawn to.
But here's my question, what is Facebook? Is Facebook Attractional or Missional?
On the one hand there is certainly an Attractional element of Facebook. The whole concept of Facebook is who is your "Friend", how many "Likes" do you have, who is "Trolling" your Facebook page. On the other hand, there is an element of diffuseness about Facebook. There is a degree of "sending out". On Facebook you send out information about yourself for the world, not knowing who will really be impacted by that information or what they will do with it. It could be that in future years, people will drop the whole label of Attractional or Missional altogether. Future churches, who seek to be relevant, might just seek to be a:
Let me know on Facebook, if you "Like" this blogpost?
All For Now,