This is Part 1 in my series, How to Best use Social Media to Enhance your Church’s Mission Trips. You can read Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here and Part 4 here.
Allowing others to share their mission experiences
Some of you might be thinking to yourself, “Well – this is all good and everything when you have an iPhone 4 and you’re all into technology and everything – but what about other lay people who go on missions?”
We have continued to use our Posterous-powered Missions Blog for two other mission trips since the summer. We had a multi-generational mission trip from our church go to the United Methodist Committee on Relief Depot in Salt Lake City, and one of my co-pastors ran the Missions blog while they were there. With Posterous, you can simply add other email addresses as Contributors, so now each time someone goes on a missions trip, I simply add their email address to Posterous, give them the email address to write emails to and attach pictures to, and then their emails get magically turned into blog posts and sent out through our various social media sites.
Most recently the site has been used by a lay member of our congregation who spent two weeks in Africa. During her time there, she had a netbook that she used, but she could have just as easily posted updates at any computer at the many Internet Cafes that are around the world. Through the blog, she was able to share with us some amazing photos and some heart-wrenching stories that allowed our congregation to experience this trip in a new way.
A New Reality for Missions
Just after a summer of using social media for missions, and then seeing the impact it can have when others do it and I’ve been able to follow along, has made me realize what a powerful tool this can be when we use it well. I hope that other churches will start to utilize the amazing capabilities they have to share the good and powerful work they are doing for God with their congregations in new ways, instead of just waiting until everyone is back, and they give a 20 minute presentation somewhere and call it good.
Lars Rood summed it up perfectly with the conclusion to his article, “Engaging Missions via Social Media.” He wrote:
The experiment of using social media to engage people with the stories of Haiti has proven to be an incredible new way of doing missions. No longer will parents drop off students at an airport and have to wonder what they are doing during their trip. Church congregations don’t have to be separated from their ambassadors as they serve in far-away lands. Using all the available technology will help families, churches and friends experience the trip and feel as though they are a part or the experience. This is a new reality for missions.
The question is – are you ready to embrace this new reality? Or will you settle for doing things “the way you’ve always done them.”