computer_screen_bigI was recently at a conference where Spence Smith and Randy Elrod taught a group of traditional communicators about the new media world.

They covered Blogging, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube … and then they got deep.

It was very clear – the world is changing. The wild new open source world gives more people a voice to be heard by more people than ever before. There is a dramatic shift in power toward the masses.

Part of me was excited – “Power to the people!”

Part of me was a nervous – “Hey wait, I am kind of in an authority role.”

Here are some reasons, beyond “being relevant,” why I am optimistic about ministry in the new media world:

Transparency – No one controls what we tweet or post, yet there is a feeling of accountability to others. In general our public and private lives seem to blur in this new world. I think that this ups the transparency bar, and if we are honest about the past 30 years, we know that bar needs to be raised.

Accessibility – People have unprecedented exposure to great content (I get to read new McKnight daily!). People also have unprecedented ability to follow leaders (I knew Mike Hyatt weeks before I met him in person.). We can be better informed and more closely connected than ever before.

Mobilization – All people have an unprecedented ability for influence. Elrod and Smith told us of a “stay at home” mom whose blog has 10,000 followers. It is safe to say that she has as much influence as any pastor in her town. Ministry leaders talk a lot about getting people involved in ministry. The new open source world provides an amazing context for this mobilization. In fact, it is producing a generation who insist on being engaged. If we want people involved in God’s ministry, not just our ministry, then we should be thrilled about the new media world.

Addressing One Concern:

What about Truth? Some people fear that if everyone has an equal voice, then those who have devoted themselves to deep study will lose their voice, and then the community will lose a grip on truth.

I think that there is some validity here. If a person has spent years in serious study of the scriptures, then we should probably lift up (but not idolize) their voice on those topics. At least that is what we do in most areas of life.

However, we can not confuse holding on to traditional power structures with holding on to truth. I do not think that heresy (wrong belief) is any more likely to come from community truth than it is to come from charismatic authoritarian leaders. In fact, there tends to be an accountability for truth in the context of community.

Overall, I believe that the new media world provides a great opportunity for fresh and vibrant ministry.

May we spend less time on blanket criticism and fear, and commit more energy on creative engagement!

For more information on the New Media check out: