12 October 2009 ~ 2 Comments

Counting The Followers

Last week I was reading the most recent issue of Relevant magazine.  In the front is an article by the publisher/founder, Cameron Strang, called Embracing the Real.  In it, he talks about Twitter and Facebook and their cultural effects. 

As I was reading, I came across the following lines:

But little by little, Twitter is starting to resemble a high school
popularity contest, where people campaign for votes and can tangibly
see how liked they are by how many people follow them or respond to
what they say.

As more celebrities and important people have come to the party
(fashionably late, of course), they see their peers already have tons
of followers, so they feel they should too. There is open campaigning
to “RT this” or straight-up asking for people to help them get more
followers. Left and right, even normal users are signing up for Twitter
sites that guarantee to get you “400 new followers a day.” (Just so you
know, you can’t do this without people knowing—it sends out a tweet in
your name to everyone saying you’ve signed up.) I’ve even seen pastors
sign up for those.

Which begs the obvious question—why? This Twitter shift is adding
fuel to the MySpace/Facebook culture that places value (and for some, a
means of self-worth) in the number of followers you can accumulate,
even if 90 percent of them are incognito spambots.
[read the whole article]

Some really great points there.  I'm just not sure that it's all that different from culture before all this technology was introduced.

He mentioned that pastors he knows have signed up for services to up the number of followers they have.
He talked about the culture of placing value and self-worth in the number of followers you can accumulate.
But is this really any different from how pastors and churches have operated for the past 50 (at least…probably more like hundreds of) years?  

So many pastors I know find their self-worth in the numbers.
How many people I can get to show up on Sunday.
How many people attend an event.
How much money was in the offering plate this month.
Even if the people sitting in those seats are proverbial "incognito spambots."
And I've been just as guilty as the rest.

Perhaps this is just a greater reminder that there are much better ways to measure effectiveness than the "number of followers."
Perhaps we should look at the deeper issue of where we find our self-worth.
Perhaps social networking and technology isn't creating new problems, but simply surfacing the issues that already there.

Let's try and care less about how many people are following us.
Let's care more about the quality of what we're doing and saying.
Let's care more about the amount of transformation in ourselves and the people we journey with.
Let's find our self worth not in everyone else's measure of success, but by the trueness to our own calling.
Or better yet, in being, rather than doing.

I'm still figuring out how to do all that.
You're invited to join me.
We can't do it alone.

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