Your Ministry Online: Facts, Figures and the Future of Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, is trying to change the way the world communicates. And that has serious implications for your church or ministry.

Associated Press (AP) via the Washington Post reported from a press conference on Monday:

“Though CEO Mark Zuckerberg didn’t go as far as declaring e-mail dead, he sees the four-decade-old technology as secondary to more seamless, faster ways of communicating such as text messages and chats. In other words, Facebook is betting that today’s high school students are on to something.”

To say that differently, Zuckerberg is following trends set by the way users are interacting with technology he and his colleagues are creating. AP reporters Barbara Ortutay and Michael Liedtke go on to write:

“The new platform, which will be rolled out to users in the coming months, integrates cell phone texts, chats, e-mail and the existing Facebook messages. It seeks to bring together all these different forms of communication in one inbox, centered around the people sending it rather than the type of technology they use. Facebook will hand out @facebook.com e-mail addresses—mostly to make it easier to communicate with people who aren’t on Facebook.”

The reality is that many churches and ministries are only recently catching on to the fact that Millennials and those even younger (Digital Natives) are located primarily on the web. They see their Facebook pages, Twitter profiles, and SMS data as an extension of their personal identity.

For the Millennials and those following closely behind them, there is a stronger connection between the imminent space we can touch and feel and the transcendent space located on the internet.

They would argue that the digital/real psychological dichotomy is a false one.

Sadly, Facebook is a new technology for many ministry leaders and the rules are already changing—again. But on the bright side, Zuckerberg and Facebook might be making it easier. With this watershed change in the way Facebook.com will function, it could become a one-stop shop for communication: Email, chat, and text messaging all in one place. And that’s just what Zuckerberg wants.

Here are some things you should know about the changes that are occurring:

  • Currently, the new communication platform Zuckerberg calls the “modern messaging system” is available by invitation only but everyone will have access in the coming months.
  • It is designed with the intent of creating seamless integration across all the ways you interact with technology.
  • Conversation history will show dialogue across all mediums as long as you want to keep it (as if you didn’t have to be watch what you said before!).
  • IMAP isn’t yet available.
  • Users will be able to prioritize messages in a third folder (Other) between the standard two (Inbox and Spam).
  • The “modern messaging system” was put together by the biggest engineering team Facebook has ever organized (15 people) and was built on a platform they have named Titan.

Streamlined communication methods could maximize Facebook’s effectiveness if their 500 million+ users buy in.

So, at least in part, the communication world has packed up and moved into online real estate. You’ll want to watch this closely if you’re serious about reaching future generations.

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