Author Topic: Facebook courting religion: much to consider  (Read 1496 times)

Michael Slusser

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 5521
    • View Profile
Re: Facebook courting religion: much to consider
« Reply #15 on: July 26, 2021, 10:06:00 PM »

I think it's significant that we have to undertake a journey (however short it may be) in order to attend a church service in person. Both the Old and New testaments are full of people making journeys in order to be/become the people of God. Having to purposefully go somewhere at a particular time focuses our attention. This holds in secular things, too. I remember the first time we drove to the Magic Kingdom in Disney World, and how that long drive first to get to the parking lot and then the ferry ride to the actual park gate made us forget about the "real" world and anticipate what we would soon be doing.
I think you're onto something. But for 16 years I lived in a heavily Jewish neighborhood in Pittsburgh, and I don't think that the synagogue service on Saturday outweighed in religious and emotional significance the Sabbath dinner on Friday evening. So maybe sometimes the journey makes the feast.

Peace,
Michael
« Last Edit: July 26, 2021, 10:10:11 PM by Michael Slusser »
Fr. Michael Slusser
Retired Roman Catholic priest and theologian

Dave Benke

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 13256
    • View Profile
    • Atlantic District, LCMS
Re: Facebook courting religion: much to consider
« Reply #16 on: July 26, 2021, 10:18:24 PM »
One of the encouraging things experienced on the other side of the pandemic was that people were not fulfilled and completely satisfied with an exclusive diet of remote worship on a social media platform.  Most of our people, truth be told, crave real time presence in a physical church with other people. True, some used the remote feature as an excuse to 'check out,' but that was probably in the works before we temporarily closed the doors.  It's a slow return, but live-steaming simply will not end up replacing in-person church experiences in most cases, regardless of how the social media giants wish to reshape religious experience. And for faiths such as those represented on this modest forum, the incarnational aspect of worship simply will not allow an exclusive use of remote services.

In our time of exploration with the Barna group on Hybrid Church, some interesting factoids came out.  This was a series of interactions online with a lead teacher and then in breakout sessions, all of which remain available to those of us who signed up, assisting us in assessing what could be useful in the world of virtual and in person church that is going to be the future. 

So one thing was that there was a great leveling out taking place.  Whereas in the past the mega-group had pretty much sole sway in online/virtual worship formats, a ton of newcomers came onto the scene.  And this did not necessarily help the mega-big guy group.  Because the more people shopped around, the more they became aware of this church's preacher or that way of worshiping or the other use of music and prayer.  So the opportunity that presented itself to the only in-person congregations brought more folks back toward the smaller congregations, because online the Big Box churches were pretty much the same as St. John Gaspump. 

So there's something pretty much nobody anticipated.  Secondly, pretty much nobody was taking PayPal/Venmo or that kind of giving and when the smaller churches did, along with personal appeals made to the online worshipers, it worked.  Again, unanticipated.

Third, the churches, like mine, that are built around in person Eucharistic worship and the personal fellowship that follows, while losing a lot of what has been essential, have gained a stronger sense of what it is to preach, teach and share the Word. 

What's going to stick around is authentic, or authentically received/perceived, care and concern for people by and through and for the people of God.   I think that takes something more nimble than what I have had in my repertoire until now, making me more of a learner.

Last Sunday - feeding of the 5000 - at the live-stream service there were some kids, so I brought them up in front of the camera and we talked about what to bring to a picnic, lots of people eating together in public.  Two of them, little dudes, did not know what a picnic was, and I realized they'd been stuck indoors for so long or gone no further than the backyard that a picnic was not in their young remembrance.  No picnics for you, COVIDkids!  That's just weird weird and at the same time true, and it made me rethink on the spot the concept of hospitality and generosity in the text as we're experiencing it right now.

Dave Benke

Dan Fienen

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 13250
    • View Profile
Re: Facebook courting religion: much to consider
« Reply #17 on: July 26, 2021, 10:37:33 PM »
Pastor Fienen re Facebook:
For example, might they determine that religious content that calls certain behaviors or actions sinful to violate their standards and censor the content or block assess to those content originators?

Me:
Yes, they might.
Remember two things.
1. Facebook is a business, and somebody owns that business. It is a media company, like a newspaper. The owners of that newspaper and the editors get to decide what goes in it and what form it will take.
2. Businesses pay attention to public reaction. If the public reacts negatively to certain types of content, a business may decide not to carry that type of content.
Agreed, you just made the case to be wary of tying our churches to Facebook or depending on them. You have given reasons why they may be unreliable partners no matter how much they may try to court our business.
Pr. Daniel Fienen
LCMS

Charles Austin

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 14696
    • View Profile
    • Charles is Coloring
Re: Facebook courting religion: much to consider
« Reply #18 on: July 27, 2021, 12:23:30 AM »
I do not mean we shouldn't use Facebook. I only note that we should be wary of their "business" attempts to court church involvement. Church involvement with big business social media companies just makes me skeptical about who will be in charge or who might most benefit.
We had a year of online services. Better than nothing, but to tell you the truth, sometimes, some Sundays, I chose the nothing.
Church is personal, it is people, it is you in on the action, the liturgy unfolding in real time right where you are, hearing it with your live-action ears, seeing it with your right-now eyes.
Let's not give our people the idea that they can "settle" for anything that we put online, in video or floating somewhere in cyberspace.
Even with those truly shut-in, we go (or send a communion assistant) to bring them the "real Stuff."
Retired ELCA Pastor. Iowa native. Now in Minneapolis. One must always ponder both the value and the dangers of poking the bear. Aroused and stimulated, the bear usually shows its true self. Or it might leap to an extreme version of itself. You never know with bears.

Dana Lockhart

  • ALPB Forum Member
  • **
  • Posts: 82
    • View Profile
Re: Facebook courting religion: much to consider
« Reply #19 on: July 27, 2021, 10:43:46 PM »
I was on facebook back when it really was cool. Back when you had to have a .edu email to get on (and not just any old .edu… they had to create a network for your university first). Back before the Boomers.

I attended one of their big webinars for faith leaders a few weeks ago. And honestly, I am optimistic. We're talking about one of the largest technology/media companies in the world… built from the ground up by millennials… investing in creating tools and platforms for religious communities. Saying out loud: faith matters to us.

(When was the last time a major media company EXPANDED their religious coverage?)

There's always drawbacks. I am not naive about their motives or the pitfalls of using their platform. But I've heard a lot of the arguments and cautions posted here for 15 years… and well, social media doesn't seem to be a passing fad. So maybe we should be doing ministry there.

It's a lot like anything else really: if the local paper offered me a free column… do I lament the state of print media? Cry about the perceived bias of their editorial page? Cynically question their motives… are they just trying to sell ads to my parishioners?

Or do I write the column and try to communicate the gospel and reach folks?





« Last Edit: July 27, 2021, 10:48:59 PM by Dana Lockhart »

Dave Benke

  • ALPB Contribution Leader
  • *****
  • Posts: 13256
    • View Profile
    • Atlantic District, LCMS
Re: Facebook courting religion: much to consider
« Reply #20 on: July 28, 2021, 09:03:32 AM »
I was on facebook back when it really was cool. Back when you had to have a .edu email to get on (and not just any old .edu… they had to create a network for your university first). Back before the Boomers.

I attended one of their big webinars for faith leaders a few weeks ago. And honestly, I am optimistic. We're talking about one of the largest technology/media companies in the world… built from the ground up by millennials… investing in creating tools and platforms for religious communities. Saying out loud: faith matters to us.

(When was the last time a major media company EXPANDED their religious coverage?)

There's always drawbacks. I am not naive about their motives or the pitfalls of using their platform. But I've heard a lot of the arguments and cautions posted here for 15 years… and well, social media doesn't seem to be a passing fad. So maybe we should be doing ministry there.

It's a lot like anything else really: if the local paper offered me a free column… do I lament the state of print media? Cry about the perceived bias of their editorial page? Cynically question their motives… are they just trying to sell ads to my parishioners?

Or do I write the column and try to communicate the gospel and reach folks?

Go with the final thought.

Dave Benke