Thursday, July 12, 2012

Reflection: Gleanings From My First Experience With the Weekly #ChSocM Chat

Marcus A. Cylar (@pastorcylar) is pastor of Tanner-Price AME Church in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, and is his denomination’s youngest district Presiding Elder (30). He’s currently a DMin student at Ecumenical Theological Seminary in Detroit, MI, where he’s researching topics related to social media and ministry integration.
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This past Tuesday, I somehow meandered into my first #ChSocM chat, which I soon found out was the one-year anniversary of its inception. 

Now I consider myself a fairly early adopter when it comes to most social media tools and information technologies, but a chat about church social media had somehow flown under my radar for 52 weeks. What particularly attracted me was how the #ChSocM chat started with prayer. This let me know, right off the bat, how serious this community is about the church aspect of #ChSocM.

After prayer drew me in, I followed the cues and introduced myself. I grew up on “old-school” AOL chat rooms, so online chatting is not new to me. Still, I found myself making all kinds of mistakes – leaving out the hashtag and taking too long to answer questions, rendering my comments almost irrelevant. Realizing this, I decided to observe a bit longer.

The beautiful thing about the #ChSocM chat is, as in “real life,” while you can learn a great deal as a spectator, you glean even more through participation.

When the chat transitioned to recruitment and retention, it was wonderful to see so many ideas proposed. People believe so much in the #ChSocM community, they’re willing to devote time and brainpower to exploring solutions. It quickly became clear to me that these weekly chats are a major blessing in people’s lives, and now I can say the same is true for me.

As someone seeking to improve his denomination’s (African Methodist Episcopal) online communications, the #ChSocM chat was truly a revelation. I enjoyed sharing ideas and passions with likeminded individuals from all over the world, and can’t wait to do it again. Stumbling onto this chat was certainly by divine appointment and truly a blessing. I’ll be back!

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