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Connie Neal is available to speak or teach workshops at your church on any of the topics she covers. Currently she is focusing on teaching parents of teens and church workers how to manage MySpace and Christian social networking sites for the good of the family and the church. If you are interested contact: Susan Yates at 714-285-9540.

 

MySpace* and Your Ministry

… as easy as 1…2…3

By Connie Neal

 

  1. You can help your people make positive online connections like no other organization. Why?
    1. They trust you and already turn to you for guidance. As technology touches their lives and especially the lives of their children, they will need guidance to make the decisions that the popularity of emerging technology (such as social networking) will force them to face.
    2. Their personal connections are already affiliated within your congregation Therefore, transferring those groups and interpersonal connections can be replicated in the world of social networking. All they need is someone in your leadership team to show them how and where to connect.
    3. Your leaders can think through the safety concerns and unfamiliar risks to make going online or connecting through online social networking safer and more spiritually and personally profitable for your people than if they were to explore it on their own.
  2. The technology is emerging so quickly that we, church leaders, need to think through the implications and applications together.
    1. Great leaders within the local church and structure of your denomination can be empowered by learning to use the new technology to accomplish their established mission and goals. However, this will need to be implemented in a way that links the conceptual online sites with the real people who look to you for leadership. Online training is great if your people are already comfortable with the technology; however, those who are not tech-savvy need help learning those skills.
    2. Even great leaders within the church will need help grasping the positive possibilities of the emerging technology and the new dangers that arise because of misuse of the technology. The new dangers require immediate updates of procedures. For example: The popularity of teens using social networking sites – whether MySpace or a Christian site – is a magnet for sexual predators. As MySpace as sites like it upgrade their ability to screen for an catch predators, those predators will look for less closely monitored sites or sites where teens are more trusting. So Christian sites may be particularly appealing. Given that teens may let down their guard in what they perceive to be a safer situation, they may tell what church they attend. What’s the problem with that? If the church has a web site, or the youth group’s calendar is posted online, any predator could go from locating a teen or child he’s attracted to on a social networking site, to the church’s site, to the calendar of events. He could perhaps find out when the youth group is planning to go roller skating, when, where, and show up – or God-forbid, call and volunteer to chaperone. The new technology demands that we in the church rethink how to protect our teens and kids from evil.
    3. This will most likely require starting within the framework of the mode of communication people are already most comfortable with – face to face, person to person communication.  I am available to come to your denominational conferences, youth pastor’s conferences, women’s ministry conferences, pastor’s conferences and so on to personally explain how your church or ministry organization can help your people become empowered by the new technology to accomplish your mission, rather than being frightened or overwhelmed by it. I can also speak directly to the teens (having been a youth minister for ten years) and to the parents (currently being a parent of a teenage son and daughter), and having a degree in Communication I will tailor my presentations to the specific needs of your denomination, church congregation, or online community. See www.connieneal.com for information about me, my books, contact and booking information.
  3. The church has the most direct connection to families, and families to individuals.
    1. Many people in your congregation, organization, or denomination will be experiencing a felt need to deal with technology that touches their children and teens. We have seen this with the burgeoning concerns over MySpace and social networking sites like it. They may turn to you for help on this.
    2. Parents are motivated to learn because of the urgency they feel as a result of pressure kids and teens are putting on them to participate in social networking, along with the real dangers. This interest and motivation can be used to shape the use of the technology for good instead of evil. However, the church must MOVE QUICKLY to meet these urgently felt needs and answer the burning questions before our families turn elsewhere to find the guidance they need NOW.
    3. MySpace for Moms and Dads: Understanding the Risks and the Rewards http://www.connieneal.com/myspace/my-space-for-moms-and-dads-book.htm was written not only with the parents and teens in mind, but also the church and family organizations that may want to work through the book with the parents in their congregation or organization. Even if the leaders “get it” we need to help those God has given the responsibility for overseeing their own family – that would be the moms and dads – make the transition to using the technology that touches their lives for good.

 

Conclusion: Ephesians 5:15-16 says, “Be very careful, then, how you live--not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” As the people to whom we minister are made aware of the evil being perpetrated through emerging media, it is our privilege to show them how to be very careful, how to manage the technology wisely, and how to make the most of the amazing opportunities that are emerging along with the technology.

 

God chose us to live in this generation with the powerful possibilities being unleashed through emerging technology and social networking sites. Let’s make the most of it and help the people connected to us, those who trust us for guidance to make the most of it for themselves, their families, their church congregations, and God’s kingdom. If I can help, please let me know. All God’s best to you and those to whom you minister. ~ Connie Neal, Author of MySpace for Moms and Dads

 

Connie Neal
Connie Neal is sought by secular and Christian media as an expert on the intersection of parenting and pop culture. A parent of two teenagers, she also has a decade of experience as a church youth worker and BA in communication from Pepperdine University. Connie has authored dozens of books including: What’s a Christian to Do with Harry Potter? featured in Newsweek and The Gospel According to Harry Potter featured in Time, Christianity Today, and Entertainment Weekly. She has also created videos and curriculum for parents and teens. She toured as a guest speaker with Women of Faith.

Author Website:
http://www.ConnieNeal.com
http://www.MySpace.com/momsanddads

http://www.zondervan.com/Cultures/en-US/Product/ProductDetail.htm?ProdID=com.zondervan.9780310277439&QueryStringSite=Zondervan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

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