Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Theological Reflection on the Use of Social Media in Teens Ministry

Here is another reflection, initially written as a requirement for my Field Education Placement. The title above explains it all. Hope it helps those who are in the similar ministry.
A little bit of context: I'm doing ministry among Indonesian students (age 14-19) resides in Singapore. And I wrote this reflection on April 2013.

Write a brief description of an important, difficult, rewarding or unique event or personal encounter.
Since this teen ministry started, I have been using more variety of social media. First, the teen ministry started a Facebook group. Later, I activated my Twitter account. Then, one of my co-worker initiated a Whatsapp group. 

Then reflect on the event or encounter described 
My theological understanding has become a solid foundation that encourages me to pursue relationship with others in the language most understandable to them. Our God is Trinity, and relationship in love is God’s character. God the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit have co-existed with one another in love since eternity. God wants a relationship with sinful human, so God reveals Himself and saves mankind through the incarnation of the Son. God became human. God uses the culture and the language of mankind so that we may know Him. Furthermore, as Christians we are called as people of God, a community. 
Ministry is about relationship with God and with one another in a community. And building a community needs communication. There are means of communication. The reason that I try to keep up with the latest social media development is because I want to build relationship, to communicate with the teens. I realized that phone call or sending short-message-service (sms) is no longer effective in reaching them, because to receive a call and reply to an sms the teens need to spend money top up, which most of them cannot afford. While social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Whatsapp are free because the school and hostels provides free wi-fi. Another reason is that phone call, for teens in this era, has been perceived more or less as quite intrusive. They do not call unless there is something very serious (usually negative) or very urgent to talk about. 
       There are many other varieties of social media now, but I found that Facebook group, Twitter, and Whatsapp group are the better ways to communicate with teens as a community. It is the most used media by the teens I our church to express themselves and communicate with each other. However, Facebook nowadays are becoming less popular among teens. They respond more when I message them through Twitter. But the most effective way of communicating now is through Whatsapp. Whatsapp group make it very easy to share prayer requests, bible verses, quotes, pictures, articles to read, links to video, and other resources. We send birthday wishes, congratulates each other for our achievements, invites each other to our important events (eg. concerts). I see discipleship as journeying with them. In Jesus’ time, disciples travel together with their teacher. They observe the whole life of their teacher. They shares lives with each other.

Having thought about your reflection, what would you do differently if you could do it all over again?
I need to constantly remind myself that social media cannot replace face-to-face encounter, so I still need to make efforts to see them and talk to them in person. I also need to be aware of the temptation, and therefore to restraint myself, of indulging in social media – being too obsessed with wanting to know how they are doing every day (updates). It can really absorb my time. 

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