Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Guest Post: #OccupyAdvent and the Power of Social Media

Rev. David Hansen (@Rev_David), pastor at St. John Lutheran Church of Prairie Hill just outside of Brenham, Texas, gets so much done during our weekly #ChSocM chats!

This topic was introduced during our October 25 #chsocm chat: “Advent begins 11/27. What challenges to identity/brand emerge during Advent? How can social media help us meet them?”

My thoughts had been spinning around this topic ever since @MeredithGould had mentioned it earlier that day.

Much of how we think about the “holiday season” (even that phrase!) has been defined by the billions of dollars spent every year on advertising and other sales materials. But we no longer live in that world. These days, people fast-forward through commercials and increasingly rely on peer recommendations instead of slick marketing. At the same time, social media allows individuals and organizations to reach as many people as expensive TV ads.

Case in point: The #Occupy movement began on social media with Occupy Wall Street. It spread to cities all over the US and Europe before traditional news media picked it up, demonstrating how a social movement with no organization and few resources could use social media to change the conversation about the US economy and politics.

Believing social media gives church all the tools we need to change the conversation about holy days and holidays, I set up @OccupyAdvent and claimed #OccupyAdvent before we’d even finished our Tuesday chat. As of today (11/8/11) 370 tweeple following our account.

Simple goal: help churches and non-church-attending Christians use social media tools to talk about the meaning and mystery of Advent. This is an experiment of sorts.

Can church use social media to spread messages of hope? Can a campaign with zero funding and no organizational backing help people slow down and simplify this year? How can social media make a real difference?  While these questions are being asked in the context of Advent, they’ve been central to our #chsocm chat from the beginning and we're discovering new examples of "yes" every day.


Pastor David said...

Thanks to all the wonderful folks on the weekly #chsocm chats for the great opportunities to learn together, and especially for the inspiration for this idea.

Denise said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, @Rev_David. We'll get another chance to explore these issues tonight, and I look forward to it.

@PaulSteinbrueck said...

Thanks for starting this, David! Looking forward to spreading the word and helping others focus on Jesus instead of busyness & consumerism during the holidays.

@pinkpaddler said...

@Rev_David, thanks for having the spiritual energy to start #OccupyAdvent. You inspired my own blog post, Too Busy to Wait for Advent.