I spent quite a while thinking about employing a social media pastor last summer. I gave up Facebook for Lent last year and ironically found myself on YouTube instead.
I discovered that YouTube is a real social media presence. I thought it was just for my teenage daughters, but I discovered real grown adults do an awful lot of interesting stuff on YouTube! When I found myself spending eight minutes watching someone clear their garage because they’d filmed it in such an interesting way I thought: “There’s something in this.”
That led me to do a little more research. I came across a phrase that really jumped out at me: we are living through the biggest communication shift in the last 500 years. YouTube is the second biggest search engine in the world.
Where do our millennials and generation Z spend their time? It’s on social media. The world is bombarding them with imagery and influence that is not Jesus-centred. We as the Church need to have a presence and reclaim some of that space.
The role of the social media pastor is to be an authentic presence in the social media world. In part, that will mean having an active YouTube presence.
We’re looking for someone comfortable and familiar with social media. I don’t just mean they tweet occasionally. I’m looking for somebody who has some understanding of the research that’s gone on. For example, Youth for Christ’s recent Gen Z research. But they also need to be a disciple of Jesus, willing to live that out authentically on social media.
What they will do needs to be worked out with the person who takes on the role, but I would be expecting an active YouTube presence, demonstrating what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. I’d expect regular posts on other social media platforms.
What I’m really hoping for is engaging with people. That’s where it gets more complicated. We (rightly!) have to be careful of things like safeguarding. I would want the person to look at what best practice is and work out better practice so there can be a real authentic engagement with people online about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.
I’m part of the New Wine network and there was a prophetic word given to me last summer when I was ruminating on this. Someone who didn’t know anything about this new position opening up, gave the word: “I think you’re going to go down an unusual path and at the end of that path something beautiful will open up before you. When you do that others will follow.” It spoke right into the heart of my prayer.
So, who knows? Maybe other churches will recognise that social media is a massive area and we need to be involved authentically, effectively and in an attractive way.
This is transcribed from an interview by Eno Adeogun on Premier Christian Radio.