One of the exciting things for me as a lover of Christ and a lover of technology is to see those two worlds merging. The church is crossing the digital divide in ways and in speeds that have never happened before. There are more people on Facebook than inhabit many countries—that’s scary and an amazing opportunity at the same time. I believe it’s our job not to call it evil but think of ways to use the tool of technology to build community in the church and preach the gospel. One of the ideas we had was to use Facebook to do a family event for our church. We tried it and “Facebook Family Fun Night” was a hit.
What is Facebook Family Fun Night? Well, the origin of my idea came from Kendra and her team at North Point Church. I love the practicality of Kendra’s blog and read every post she posts. She is also a great breakout speaker; if you are going to the Orange or Drive Conferences, make sure you go to at least one of her breakouts—you’ll thank me later. At North Point they did a competition-based event that was more through their website. I thought for us that Facebook would be a great way to do something similar to what they did.
Here is the basic description of what we did:
- Our first step was to connect the content with our weekend service, so we would be partnering with the families in our church.
- We sent out a flyer and created an event on Facebook that listed all the supplies that families would need. We included the time the event would start and the basic rules for the event.
- I created two videos. I uploaded those videos to YouTube and embedded them in our Uptown Fanpage. The first video welcomed the families and went over the rules again. The second video wrapped up what they learned and helped parents lead their kids to a faith decision in Christ. I received word back that one little girl decided to trust God with her whole heart for the first time. Her parents helped her with that decision. That alone made our event a success.
- We started our event at 7pm sharp. At 7pm, I posted the link to the PDF containing the exact instructions for that night.
- Families did each of the activities which rehearsed what they had learned the Sunday before in our children’s ministry. They had to take pictures of each event and upload them to Facebook. It was a race to see who could complete the activities the fastest.
A few questions as to why we did this?
1. Why Facebook? – Loads of our families are on Facebook and know how to work it so we didn’t have to communicate how to use the technology. Plus Facebook is free.
2. What was our goal?
Our goals were:
- Stir ideas for creatively teaching your kids the bible at home.
- Help connect families to each other through a shared online experience.
- Do a family event in the winter that wasn’t weather-dependent.
- Build Uptown’s Facebook brand with our core audience.
- Create a shared memory for our families.
- Create an opportunity for parents to lead their own kids to Christ.
3. Why make it a race? I like the race because you don’t get bogged down in any one thing. It forces you to keep moving because everyone else is. One of the reasons family devotions are lame is because they get bogged down and don’t keep moving and kids lose focus. The race factor keeps the family focused. I like that.
Everyone who took part in this activity really enjoyed it. I don’t think virtual community will ever replace face-to-face community, but I do believe it can enhance it. When we have done events in the past, people who didn’t attend didn’t really feel like they missed out, but based on the viral and social nature of this event, if you missed it, you know you missed it because of the chatter and pictures loaded. I love that. We work so hard to keep people from feeling left out that people rarely feel like they missed something great. I hope everyone who didn’t take part in this event feels like they missed out…because let’s face it—they did!
What I would change for next time:
1. Have a better way to judge who was the winner. I thought the timeline with the last picture posted would work, but it didn’t. Next time the last thing everyone must do is take a picture of a digital clock.
2. Perhaps have different criteria for who the winner would be.
3. Maybe do part of it via ustream to make it more interactive and I could make comments on the pictures as they came in.
( If you are interested in downloading the files we used for our first Family Night, click on the following link. https://www.box.com/s/ii9i71b6roy705bkknis )