Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Using Social Media at PNW Annual Conference

At Annual Conference this year we decided to take a risk and have a young person live tweet the plenary sessions as they happened. Social media in the church is something congregations have struggled with understanding the best way to use these tools to help their congregation.  With Annual Conference we decided that social media was going to a part of our holy conferencing. One might ask why add social media to an already busy Annual Conference? Well, in my opinion we added an official tweeter because we saw the need and want of people to try something different. With this tweeting through the conference page and personal tweeting with the hash tag #pnwac13 we saw people voice their opinions both good and bad, see the struggles we were facing with as they came in, and poke fun at things that were entertaining or annoying.
Being the head tweeter was rather daunting at times. Having to sit at the Bishop’s table with his crew overlooking the whole body of Annual Conference. I needed to make sure my emotions of my own opinions didn’t get in the way of helping people understand what was happening during plenary. I have to admit there was a few times I had to ask the twitter world what we were discussing during plenary because I was completely lost by all the amendments and motions people were tossing out.  If you happened to see me making faces while at the table, I may or may not have been having staring contests with my incoming and outgoing DS’s in the Seven Rivers district (thanks Mary and Juli).
I’m sure people are wondering if head tweeting was easy? In all honesty it was easy and confusing at times. Trying to figure out what to tweet when and how to write the tweet in a mere few seconds before the discussion passed. I often got fielded questions by people tweeting on where to find more information about a topic. The second most thing people tweeted or texted me about was the click of Bishop Grant’s pen. I numerous times was asked to please figure out a way to silence his pen. Being the head tweeter had its advantages as well. I could see the wide range of perspective of people’s opinions on different legislative topics. I as a young person at the head table had the advantage of telling Shirley and Bishop Grant to recognize young people need to speak on topics rather then just letting the young people be voiceless when we need a voice in todays times.
I hope the conversations we have started from Annual Conference and the importance of using social media to break boundaries will be used in congregations around the conference. Using social media is a viable option not just for your own church members but for reaching out to people who wouldn’t normally step foot into your churches. Next time you see a person on their cellphones in church don’t tell them to get off but ask them what they are doing.  The younger generation has a lot to tell the older generations about social media. We do care about the church, social media including twitter is one outlet we use to share our faith with others.

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