Last Friday I spent a very enjoyable few hours with folks from the Church of Scotland who were preparing for work overseas. They were all experienced missionaries, having served in various places already. This event was more of a reorientation for them before heading off into new assignments.
I was asked to go along and talk about communications – especially what it means to communicate about mission in a world of social media and instant communication.
So we talked through some of the basics of communication (noise, message, segmentation, integrated communications) and some of the things to consider when sending messages home.
Finally we discussed social media and the opportunities / challenges it brings.
Before attending this event I’d carried out a quick survey, asking people with recent experience of serving overseas about their approach to social media. These are some of the comments…
- ‘It can create a sense of being very far away… It can contribute to homesickness’.
- ‘You have to be extra careful with the things you share because nationals, and the people you are working with may be offended if they learn that you have shared a story/picture about them and are benefiting from it’.
- ‘You need to be careful what you say so that people don’t get the wrong idea or unnecessarily worried when they don’t understand the big picture’.
- ‘Since we don’t live in a grass hut in Africa as missionaries are supposed to we have to be careful that we don’t come across as living a life of luxury in a beautiful part of the world’.
- ‘I don’t have my last name on Facebook’.
- ‘A way to ask for technical help with various issues’.
- ‘Using closed groups can be a helpful way to keep people updated without posting everything publicly’.
- ‘If you are unsure, get someone to check a post before you publish’.
- ‘My Facebook ‘Keep Kate in Tea’ campaign was a really fun thing to do and I was overwhelmed by the response’.
- ‘The in-the-moment contact is priceless for people back home’.
So do you think we missed anything?
What would you add to the list?
Of course, if you’d like me to run a similar workshop on communication or social media for your church or agency please get in touch.
Photo: Jason Howie