When I first experienced Facebook, I chuckled at the expression, "You have a friend request."
By the act of clicking on "Confirm Friend", it was so easy! The magic was accomplished, and I received notification that "Kathy Guy and [Name] are now friends."
I thought it was so silly, but after a brief time of "Confirm Friend" actions, it was second nature. It's now in my vocabulary, "We're FB friends, so I'll message you." It's now normal.
Social networking has re-defined what it means to be friends, to have relationships, in our culture.
I met last week with some leaders from other church who organize their small groups. It heightened my awareness of these learnings.
- The desire people have to be connected to others in relationship has not changed. The methods they are willing to use to get into those relationships have changed - drastically.
- Face-to-face connection is no longer the primary method people use to develop relationships.
- Social networking is now the primary method people use.
- Churches create physical spaces, small groups, as the primary method for developing relationships.
- The willingness people have to enter a physical space for face-to-face interaction is now considerably lower.
- For specific purposes, people are still willing to use face-to-face interaction to fill their felt needs:
- Single people who are motivated by the desire to find a partner.
- People looking for solutions to financial, marital, or parenting challenges.
- Christians who are looking to grow spiritually.
Churches should continue to create physical spaces for groups. However, they should also create specific social networking space for relationships to develop. If people could connect first in a social network environment, it may increase their willingness to further develop that same relationship face-to-face.
Working between our Connections and Communications teams, we're getting closer to the best platform to help our people. As we know more, you can be sure we'll let you know!