Facebook, which went public on the Stock Market this week, is well known as the largest of all the social media sites. And because of that the Church needs to figure out how to use engage it, and the people using it, effectively. So the first question to ask is probably "how do people use Facebook"?
It turns out that Facebook is a pretty good predictor of community involvement:
"According to a new report from Pew, the Facebook users who have the most friends, were tagged in the most photos, and received the most wall posts, were more likely than average users to attend political rallies and meetings offline. Additionally, those who used Facebook's "groups" feature were also more likely to try to convince other Facebook friends to vote for certain candidates. (In general Facebook users were more likely than average Americans to vote in an election.)
It makes sense that an overall pattern of engagement extends beyond Facebook to the greater world. And this was true before Facebook too -- people who are more social, more engaged, also have higher rates of civic participation.
But because Facebook is now where so many of those people -- these highly engaged citizens -- spend their time and communicate, the Facebook game is rising in importance for political campaigns. Voter contact -- asking someone personally to vote -- is thought to be the most effective way to get people to the polls, and it's all the more so when the people making the contact are friends not strangers. Facebook, with its dense and active networks, offers campaigns a more efficient way of making those contacts. On Facebook, there is the potential to reach more people, whom they assume to be friends, without sending people into the streets to walk door to door."
What's true for political campaigns, which attempt to reach the broadest audience possible and get them to take action on behalf of a cause or an idea, is just as true for the Church. Reading all this it would seem that the Church needs to be using Facebook to connect with its most committed members - and that's probably across all age cohorts now-a-days.
The average Episcopalian invites something like one person to church every ten years (or worse). Maybe we need to take a cue from the political campaigns in our use of Facebook? So does your church have a Facebook page? Is it being used?