Missing The Proverbial Banana Boat
Only a week ago I posted a piece here on the realities of Social Media and suggested that the viability and authenticity of online community is something that the church needs to take a very hard look at.
That led me to wonder, "Are our spiritual leaders even being given the training they need to not only grasp the power of social media and how it can benefit their ministry, but also how to maximize that power once its in place?"
I then went to six random sites for local seminaries in the Northeast US near me (including my alma mater) and looked at the course offerings for the degree that prepares people for local church ministry, the Master of Divinity program. I looked at Harvard Divinity School, Union Theological Seminary in NYC, Princeton Seminary, Drew University, Boston University and Andover Newton Theological School (the nation's oldest Protestant seminary and where I got my degree).
NONE of them, not a one, has course on Social Media as an integral part of their degree programs. None.
It is astonishing to me, yet not very surprising, that this is the case. The church is an institution that is slow to any kind of change, and the institutions surrounding the church, including those that train and prepare people to work for it, are often just as slow.
And yet this is the way the world is connecting and getting work done. Why are our spiritual leaders not being given the same crucial skill set as our business leaders? Why aren't a comprehensive regimen of courses being offered to graduating seniors on how to articulate the importance of social media to search committees and church boards, how to implement it at the local level with things like dedicated Communications teams, and then how to get beyond Social Media 101 and actually start to optimize the use of Social Media so it does more than basically sit there and gather dust as a billboard for the local church that almost no one but the local membership visits?
I can't blame the church entirely for the lack of knowledge in this area; the institutions that train and prepare future spiritual leaders aren't even teaching this stuff to their students!
This has got to change. It must.
If it doesn't, the church will have a whole other realm of irrelevance it will be confronted with beyond the ones it already struggles to speak to.
I'm on a mission: get the crucial tools and skill sets needed for 21st century leadership of any organization into the hands and minds of our future spiritual leaders. Not doing so is putting them and the organizations they will lead at a huge disservice and disadvantage.
Giving them these tools and ability to maximize their potential will not only help keep our leaders current, but I firmly believe it will also help reshape the landscape of what "church" even means over the course of the next couple of decades.
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