Announcing Jan 4th, 2014 Social Media Intensive for Congregational Leaders

Like - Social Media

Friends, on January 4, 2014 I will be leading a social media intensive for congregational leaders.  This event is being held at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson, AZ.   If you are a minister, congregational staff or volunteer interacting with human beings in the United States with internet access and mobile technology,  this event is for you.   Registration is open nation-wide. Hope you can join us!   Full Details & Registration ~ Peter   

Social Media for Ministry, Outreach and  Membership Growth with Peter Bowden

January 4th, 2014  *  Tucson, AZ

Oh yeah!  Join us...

Social media is fundamentally changing how people form relationships, consume information and make important life decisions.  This has significant implications for congregations, from  how we share our news and announcements, to how we invite people into membership. For our congregations to thrive in the 21st Century, we must understand these changes and learn to use the communication tools of our time with purpose, skill and integrity.  Join us for this day-long social media intensive for congregational leaders!

Event Location
Unitarian Universalist Church of Tucson
4831 East 22nd Street Tucson, AZ 85711

Event Sponsors
Special thanks to our sponsoring congregations and the Rev. Charles Gaines, my mentor,  for helping to make this event possible.

Testimonials

“Peter’s passion for social media communications and Unitarian Universalism is contagious. His vision for our future is something we need to learn and embrace.” – Don Southworth, UUMA Executive Director

“Peter provided our team with an opportunity to learn together about social media giving us a common understanding of the benefits and costs of utilizing it. His enthusiasm for social media is infectious, making us feel not only that implementing it is possible and perhaps inevitable as our world continues to evolve.” — Sara D., Church Administrator, Cedar Lane UU Church.

“Peter’s training on Social Media was clear, instructive, and interactive. He is dynamic, engaging and brings an enthusiasm to his sessions that is contagious. I recommend him highly.” — Mark Bernstein, Regional Growth Development Consultant, Central East Region of the UUA

Start Tweeting at #UUAGA in 3 Easy Steps

Reprinted from previous UU Planet post.

You have a smart phone, you’re on Facebook,  you might even have an iPad.  If you DO and you’re at General Assembly, it is time to try Twitter.  I know you can do it and I want to follow your tweets.  Here’s a quick guide.

  1. Find someone you know who is techie and probably tweets.
  2. Offer to buy them an ice coffee if they help you get set up on Twitter.
  3. Do what they say.

I’m serious! GA is the perfect time to get some social media and tech coaching from friends and colleagues.

We need to help each other to learn the communication tools of our time.  I’ve found that one-on-one is best for some people, especially those who are anxious about trying. That’s why I’m doing more private clergy social media training these days.  But I can’t do that for everyone. We need to help each other. If you are at GA and Tweet, try and teach one person how to do the same during the week.

Now that you are set up, make sure to do the following while your coach is standing by…

  1. Write your first tweet. If you’re at GA, include the hashtag #UUAGA.
  2. Next, have them show you how to search for a hashtag, that’s the keyword tags we use to create conversations. Search for #UUAGA by clicking here.
  3. Follow other UU’s tweeting using that tag.
  4. Follow me on Twitter @uuplanet. I’ll follow you back.

Let me know via Twitter if you’ve started Tweeting this GA.

Don’t forget to use the GA Hash Tag!  When you tweet during GA, if you want all of us to follow it, include the tag #UUAGA.

Use Hahtag #UUAGA at GA

Social Media and Congregations Lost In Time

Image of an old pocket watch

Recently I had the honor of collaborating with my friend and colleague, the Rev. Naomi King, on the 2013 Minns Lecture “Ministry in the Age of Collaboration.”    We were asked to speak on social media and Unitarian Universalism in the 2st Century.

We are both  sharing core messages from our talks via our blogs, and videos of the lectures will be available later this month.

For this first post of mine, before I start in on social media,  I think it is helpful to speak to the issue of our congregations being out of synch with time.  I’ve discussed with United Church of Christ colleagues  the fact that the UCC seems, to me, 10 years ahead of the Unitarian Universalist Association in some regards.  They in turn chuckle and say they feel the UCC is 10 years behind where they should be.  That puts us, if you do the math, 20 years behind!

Our lagging leads to significant problems with our ministry.  Most frequent in my conversations with our leaders:

  • Why don’t our children grow up to be adult Unitarian Universalists?
  • Why aren’t families participating the way they use to?
  • Why aren’t we attracting all those  spiritual and not religious people, the nones?
  • And while we’re at it, why aren’t people drawn to, and participating in the work of good institutions like ours the way they use to?

These are complex issues with no one simple answer or quick fix. But there is a common problem plaguing many of our congregations which is directly contributing to them.

Our congregations?  They’ve gotten lost in time…. I know, it sounds like science fiction, doesn’t it?

Ministry Time Bubbles

bubbles

Many congregations are living in what I call “ministry time bubbles.”  You see, for many congregations — maybe yours —  the world has changed around you.   Not a little.  Not a lot.  We’re talking massive mighty change impacting every aspect of our human society.

How did some congregations get stuck in time?  A content membership, leadership and staff with enough money to care for themselves, coupled with sudden rapid technological innovation in the world at large.

When a congregation has stable membership numbers, enough funds to meet its own needs, it is easy to focus on caring for that immediate community.  That’s the congregation as “safe harbor.”  And believe me, plenty of people are looking for a safe harbor, including being sheltered from change.

With a reasonable membership and sufficient budget, a congregation can go about its ministry in this way, with attention on its membership and little attention on the rest of the world for years.

To create a significant ministry time bubble, take this set up and crank up the rate of change in the larger world. Presto!

In this illustration you can see a congregation starting in synch with the world – blue, then while they were busy with their internal ministry, the rate of change outside picked up.  Uh oh…

Ministry Time Bubbles

Accelerating Change

For  a very long time  change in our world came at a rate that was challenging, but not too drastic.  The difference between “congregational time” and “world time” was reasonable.  Leaders were able to slowly soak in the change. Taking  time was okay.  A decade to get the congregation set up on email? No problem!  Five years to debate a new website?  Why not!

Things are different today.  We’ve recently gone through three major technological revolutions:

  1. Development of the internet
  2. Creation and proliferation of social media
  3. All that tech in your pocket thanks to mobile computing

These technologies are fundamentally changing the culture, norms and expectations of human society.  And not just once, they’re impacting human behavior day after day after day.

While many congregations have been going about their business of faithfully changing the world locally (focus on core membership), the very world they’re called to change — it changed. Result?  A congregation out of synch with time, technology and culture.

These ministry time bubble, they may be fine  for a while.  But increasingly the discrepancies are  too great to maintain.   And what was chalked up to technology becomes a matter of clashing cultures.

UU Exit Sign

New Norms for Humanity

These discrepancies between how our congregations are going about ministry and what is increasingly mainstream culture –  big problem.  It is easy to discount technology we don’t care for.   But we can’t minister effectively if we discount a changing human culture.  And that’s the scale of what we’re talking about.

Think about that.  Your congregation, if you aren’t actively staying in touch with present day technology and resulting culture — and this is a moving target — will be increasingly out of touch with the culture of those people you are seeking to minister to and with.

What culture am I talking about?

We’ve been globalized, interconnected and sci-fi like devices have been placed in our pockets giving us mind boggling creative, collaborative, and coordinating powers!   These powers are rapidly changing how we  do everything from work and play, to how we learn and organize ourselves to face the injustices of our time.

 Unfortunately, this growing culture clash isn’t readily apparent to many of our leaders.   Why? Because our culture being out of whack with what is becoming mainstream present day human culture simply results in humanity wanting nothing to do with us.  It is like a silent force gently pushing people away from us, including our young people who want to be active and effective agents for change.

You might say that we raised our very smart children well enough for them to know that our congregations, those stuck in time, are not the best places to invest their time and energy.  Great leaders (and aspiring leaders) don’t suffer through mediocre leadership. They find an institution or revolution ready to help them be of service.

(C) istockphoto

The Good News!

The good news is that our mission, our purpose, that change we  and our congregations are (hopefully) called to make in the world — there are more people than ever interested in that.  We know this because we’re increasingly networked together.

But….   (Drat! You knew there was a but.)

But the people we are trying to minister to and with are different now.   You see, we’re all adapting to this new world.  We are learning to do amazing things with the creative, collaborative, democratizing, gamified, hierarchy crushing, grassroots coordinating, rapid response, instantaneous, “fail often, fail fast, fail forward” tools and culture of this time.

We need your Unitarian Universalist religious leadership more than ever!

We just need you to be a religious leader differently.

We need you to understand the cultural shifts that are reshaping our human society, reshaping the world, and how to harness them to unleash our shared ministry in a world increasingly characterized by connectivity and openness.

An Open World

In my next post I want to talk to you about our world’s increasing culture of openess. You can get ready by watching Don Tapscott’s Ted Talk, Four principles for the open world.

I’ll reference his four principles in my next post. They are:

  1. Collaboration
  2. Transparency
  3. Sharing
  4. Empowerment

Joseph Priestly District 2013 Worship Arts Festival

Friends, this year I will be offering the keynote and series of workshops at the Joseph Priestly District’s 2013 Worship Arts Festival. My talk is titledWorship & Social Media in the new Age of Collaboration.”  Social media has opened amazing new possibilities for turning worship and sermons into just one part of a much larger conversation.  Together we’ll explore new ways for engaging your community as you plan, research and design worship. There will be over a dozen workshops offered at this event.  Scroll down for the full selection, including my three workshops. It is going to be amazing!  I hope you’ll join us.  Let me know if you have questions about any of my offerings. ~ Peter

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Joseph Priestly District 2013 Worship Arts Festival
Saturday, February 23, 2013
Optional Friday evening session February 22, 2013
Hosted by the UU Church in Cherry Hill, NJ

ONLINE REGISTRATION

FULL CONFERENCE DETAILS

Who should attend: Anyone interested in enhancing the worship experience of their congregation from ministerial, musical, and religious education staff to worship presenters and hospitality volunteers. You’ll find amazing resources, inspiration and connections at this event.