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Twitter, Facebook, Vine, Instagram, LinkedIn, Myspace, Google+, Tumblr, Foursquare, Pinterest, Reddit, YouTube, thousands of dating sites, like it or not, social media is the heart of the “new” internet. The “new” internet is basically defined by how a lot of the new content is being generated by the average user and not corporations. All social media is user created content. According to Euromonitor, by 2020 over 43% of the entire world population will be online. The United Nations estimates the world population by that time will be near 7.6 billion people, so needless to say, that is a lot of influence. There are people out there who think technology is cheapening the interaction between individuals, but I say it’s strengthening it. Because of the internet and the speed of information, we are more informed (or have the capacity to be) than any other generation in history. This is kind of a big deal, and we have to embrace it. In my opinion, technology is our single biggest asset if we use it properly, and from what I’m seeing, the church as a whole and Christianity in general is struggling to keep up.
As I’ve said before, social media is driven by content. The key to getting views is having good content. The beauty of things like Twitter is how quickly something can spread. This is why a lot of the millennial generation gets their news from Twitter (I don’t even watch news on TV any more). Here’s an example. Say you tweet a link to an article on your website. If you have 500 followers then you have immediately gained 500 possible hits. If one of those followers retweets and that person has say, 2.5 million followers, then your potential hits have gone up by 500,000% in a matter of seconds. This is why we have to generate better content. Ministries, churches, non-profits all have to get on board. Some are doing a pretty good job, other’s have a lot of catching up to do. The two headed dragon of this is how content is needed for growth and exposure. Content and growth are not mutually exclusive, they must grow together. If you want your blog, ministry, etc, to grow but you aren’t working to generate new content, then you won’t grow near as well as you could. You can’t feed the masses with leftovers, you must increase what you offer to bring in more consumers. Here’s the kicker: when you increase your content, you have to increase the quality. I believe one of the best ways you can do this is interactivity. Two of my favorite examples are Spent and this article by the Guardian. Spent is a interactive game developed by Urban Ministries of Durham to help illustrate financial hardship and why there is a need for their ministry. After playing, it gives you an opportunity to help, and it’s immensely effective. The Guardian article is, in my opinion, a look at the future of content delivery. It blends photographs, video, and text to tell an amazing and informative story. With the rise of tablets and smartphones, I guarantee content will start to follow this trend, and we need to get on board.
The Christian community as a whole has never really been thought of as innovative. On the contrary, we’ve often ridden on the coat tails of more innovative and popular trends in pop culture. If you want examples of this, just look at every single Christian t-shirt that looks eerily similar to some popular logo, phrase, or style. Christian films have been no better, as I’ve discussed before at length. In 1st Corinthians Paul talked about finding common ground with all people so that he may win as many as possible to Christ. While this applies in how we live our lives and how we interact with people, I feel it also applies to what kind of things we create. We have to strive to be better in what we produce for the world, and to do that we have to embrace technology and innovation to get there. Christian culture has been defined by traditions, not innovations. I feel it’s this way because we feel “Well, the gospel doesn’t change, so why should we?”, and this is in my opinion a grievous mistake. The world is changing, and we have to change how we approach things. The message will always stay the same, but the delivery and the means have to adapt or our ever decreasing influence in the culture will virtually disappear.