Social Media and Missionaries

I saw this on twitter the other day, and it made me think about the use of social media in missions.

My job as a missionary has many different aspects. I spend most of my time training youth workers (both formally and informally). I spend a little of my time working with young people (not as much as I used to). I also try to inspire people to be involved in missions.

Some parts of what I do are easier to talk about on social media than to actually do, especially given the culture in which I work.

Right now, for example, twitter in Mexico isn’t very popular. Facebook is coming of age in Mexico. But it would be weird for me to try to convince people here to use twitter so that I could connect with them and train youth workers through twitter. Could I do it? Probably. Would it be very effective? Right now, probably not. (Maybe in the future).

The part of my job that has to do with inspiring people (mostly in the United States) to be involved in missions (either by financially supporting, praying for, or considering going to serve in a foreign culture, among other things), is a little easier to do using social media. In fact, I believe social media has made this part of my job easier. I no longer have to be in the United States to remind people to be praying for our family or ministry.

But this part of my job basically requires talking about what I do in Mexico and Latin America. To answer Tony’s question, talking about what I do (using social media) to those in the United States and elsewhere helps me be able to do what I do in Mexico and Latin America.

I am definitely interested in using social web to train youth workers. In fact, we have a social network (in Spanish) set up on Ning that has various members from all over Latin America. We use it to help them with their ministries. I’m sure we could use it better.

As always, I need to continue thinking through the question. But for some parts of my job it is easier to use social networks than others.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Leave a comment and let me know what you think.

Social Networks and Youth Ministry in Mexico

Social Networks and Youth Ministry in Mexico

Yesterday in my Professional Orientation to youth ministry class, we talked about contacting students in ministry. We talked about many different ways to contact people, and in class, I asked on twitter for some suggestions on how to contact students during the week.

Of course, the popular way to contact students in the United States right now is on Facebook. I received replies from both Tony and Sara that told me to suggest creating Facebook groups to keep in touch with students. Right now, Facebook has not really caught on in Mexico.

However, Huberto showed me a social network that is taking off in Mexico. It’s called Hi5, and it’s really pretty much like all the other social networking sites that are out there right now. Hi5 is the 3rd largest social networking site in Latin America and has more users than MySpace or Facebook.

It looks a lot like MySpace, in my opinion. Huberto says he uses it to stay in touch with the students in his ministry, and he was worried about the dangers that there are with his students using these sites and putting too much information online, etc.

I thought that this whole conversation was good because it’s interesting to see how different countries’ use of social media evolves. I started a Spanish social network on for youth workers, which led the youth pastor from our church to create one for the youth ministry at our church.

Social networking is getting more popular in Mexico, and it will definitely be a way to communicate with young people in the future. Right now, it’s cutting edge. I wonder what new thing will be out in the USA when it finally becomes mainstream here?

(image by: dsevilla on flickr)