Before last week I had never heard of Meerkat. Correction, I have heard of meerkats, but this is what I had imagined in my mind:
Now tell me that isn’t just precious! What’s not to love about meerkats?
Anyway, the Meerkat I’m talking about is not these wonderful creatures, but rather a smart phone app that allows people to live stream video to their Twitter account.
I found out about this from reading an article on how Meerkat will change the 2016 US Presidential elections in significant ways.
Guess what, this means Meerkat also has the potential to impact our churches too. Scratch that – Meerkat will impact our churches. We can either get on the front of the wave or sit back, get hit with it and try to catch up.
Of course, we still have churches who are debating whether to get a facebook page, or worse – should our church have a website? Seriously people? No wonder the culture is no longer telling the church’s story for it – some churches are in a completely different world. And don’t even try to say that the church shuns technology. Martin Luther’s ideas became popular because of a new technology in his age – the printing press.
So how do churches respond to Meerkat? You have a few options.
1. There are many churches, maybe even most churches, who fight against technology and social media, saying how bad these things are and how they are changing society in such bad ways, etc. When it comes down to it, the people in these churches are saying, we can’t control these things, so we are going to restrict or ban them. I suppose these churches will look at Meerkat the way they look at any other social media – like it’s a sin, turn their eyes from it, try to hide away from it and put their fingers in their ears and say “I can’t hear you.”
2. There are churches who fully embrace the latest greatest gadgets our there. Some do a great job with this. They take the attitude that these things are not just a fad, but are the culture we are in. And more than that, these things are tools to be used and the churches that know how to use these tools will be better equipped to build relationships with people where they are. They will be the approachable churches.
3. I would venture that a large group of churches will be somewhere in the middle – they know these things exist, can see the potential for them, know people use this stuff out in the world, but aren’t sure how to make it work for church. They are going to need some help and aren’t even sure where to start.
So here’s what you need to know – Meerkat is going to make an impact on churches. It’s a matter of how. Meerkat has the ability to allow people to see the reality of what goes on in a church, the relationships between people, etc.
The church can either continue to fortify the wall around itself. That’s not a great long-term solution. Fortifications are meant to keep people out, to protect those inside from the threat out there. The last time I checked, Jesus didn’t say – go and make members and bring them into the church and lock the doors so no one else can come in and see what’s going on because the Gospel message should be kept a secret. Maybe that’s in 2 Hesitations, the fake book of the Bible I love to quote.
The other option is to look at Meerkat in a similar way as other technology and social media – it’s an opportunity to convey the Good News to the world. It’s a tool for a job and the job is to spread the Gospel message. This is true for smart phones, facebook, blogs, etc. These are communication tools that we should be considering as a Godsend. Yes, it also means we aren’t in control. But even that conveys something important – relationships are built on vulnerability and yielding control.