Media is the vehicle that drives our North American mission—To reach the North American Division with Hope and Wholeness. In addition to traditional mass media, social media is causing a societal sea of change. Social media users are more trusting, have more close friends, are more politically engaged, get more support from their peers, are reconnecting with the friends of their youth, and are using networks to revive dormant ties with lost connections. Social media helps the church connect in new and effective ways with the strengths of our mission, message, and members.
To what extent has the Church used media to reach our territories? Using the United States as an example, the Barna Group randomly sampled a panel of more than a thousand Americans to discover how much they knew of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The results highlight the crucial need for media renders our target publics more receptive to the message of Hope and Wholeness offered by the Church.
Nearly 40% of youth from 18-24 have never heard of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Of all US adults, 2% claim an awareness of HOPE TV and 1% Three Angels Network. Clearly, bolder approaches are needed if we are to REACH our NAD territory with hope and wholeness.
Role of Social Media as part of the North American Division Media Strategy
During 2011 and 2012 intensive analyses have been undertaken to identify the best way to manage Adventist media in a way that maximizes impact, minimizes wasteful duplication, and advances mission.
Although these studies are still in process, the Division has given intensive attention to the changing role of social media as part of the mix. Social media has the potential to advance all of the other strategic “blocks”: young adults, Adventist education for everyone, transformational evangelism, emerging immigrant populations, and women clergy hiring and enhancement. The following statements summarize these contributions:
Goal: Retention of young adults
For young adults there’s no such thing as online/offline. Young adults connect and share everything in their lives, and this extends to their faith. Social media can help us meet this new culture of connectedness. The Adventist message can be mobile and meaningful to our young adults. Like the companies they admire the most, we can aspire to exceed their expectations.
Goal: Adventist education for everyone.
The Adventist commitment to personal development through education is one of our most distinctive strengths. We can use social media to leverage this strength to engage and energize our members and our students and to attract new audiences for education. Online media is fundamentally changing how education is delivered, and now it has the capacity to reach everyone, everywhere.
Goal: Reach emerging immigrant communities.
Immigrants have flocked to social media platforms, creating their own communities and using mobile media at higher levels than their counterparts. Social media is the means they use, both to stay connected with roots and to build new connections with new communities. Any successful strategy to reach emergent communities must include a social media and mobile strategy that is designed by these communities for these communities.
Goal: Women clergy.
Women dominate social media networks. Facebook and Twitter are both 60% female. Pinterest is 79% female. For many women, the most likely source of input about life issues will be the people that they know and connect with online. The social platforms are excellent environments for affirming the role of women in ministry, and for bringing women into ministry with other women.
As noted above, media involves virtually every ministry. Therefore it is essential that ministries are seen as contributing partners rather than passive bystanders. The NAD media strategy, when completed, will spell out in detail the role and function of all entities converging together in ways that create a dynamic synergy.
God calls us to use every avenue to tell the Gospel story. Social media can readily serve various ministries. We can use social media to engage with our communities for service, renewal, and outreach. We can equip our pastors and lay leadership with a dynamic understanding of how to use social media. We can develop specific social media tools and products to meet ministry needs, as well as the metrics for measuring their impact. Social media can help us build relationships that are rooted in eternity.
—North American Division: To Reach Our World with Hope and Wholeness [http://www.reachnorthamerica.org/]
Some OSN media samples from Younger Generation Church
Younger Generation Church [YG] is the vibrant young adult ministry of the Arlington Seventh-day Adventist Church, TX, USA. Since it’s inception, it has made integral use of media in its worship experience and has utilized the internet as a primary ministry delivery system to their larger online audience. As an example, you will find their sermon library available on iTunes as a free downloadable video podcast.
Having a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Vimeo, and YouTube has been very valuable to Younger Generation Church, not only in the opportunity it affords in cultivating community and communication among regular attenders, but also in fostering relationships with potential viewers and extended networks of friends, family, coworkers, and neighbors of YG.
Here’s an example of a YouTube video utilized to introduce and entice online viewers to consider experiencing Younger Generation Church:
Posted on YouTube, facebook, and Twitter, the following is a photo montage clip expressing the mission of YG:
Finally, A. Allan Martin, teaching pastor at Younger Generation Church, has made various presentations internationally about the value of social media and young adult ministry. Find here a presentation he offered at the North American Division Media Summit showcasing a case study media festival derived from YouTube:
Your Samples and Comments
Enrich this blog by including your samples in our comment section and of course feel free to add your thoughts and questions.