social media, salty waffle, social media faith, social media faith based organizations, social media church, social media share, social media community, social media like JesusPaul Steinbrueck, an author for Christian Web Trends is currently writing a wonderful series called How to Build Online Relationships Like Jesus. This five part series covers the ins and outs of managing relationships online. Here is an overview of the series:

Part 1: Paul points out some serious questions raised by one of his commenters:

  • Do social media sites only allow for hundreds or even thousands of superficial relationships?
  • Is it possible to foster deep meaningful relationships and be able to love others through a social media site?

To get the the root cause of this, Paul plainly states: It’s not a Technology Issue, It’s a Relationship Issue. This gets to the core of the questions. Relationships in everyday life can be shallow, such as the casual smile I give to a classmate; it is not only online.

Part 2: Pulls from example. Paul looks at Jesus’ life and sees two trends.
1) First we see that Jesus has different types of relationships on earth. Toward the top are the people he is closest to and going to the bottom are the people he is less close to  
2) When looking at the time Jesus gave to these people, we see that the triangle is reversed. The largest section is now on the top and the smallest on the bottom. This example illustrates the intimacy of relationships. Not all relationships are going to be deep and meaningful because it isn’t humanly possible to have thousands of deep relationships. They take too much work! Thus, its not about what the technology is allowing, it is what our human capacity can handle. “For Jesus it wasn’t a choice – either the crowd or his followers or his disciples or his close friends, but rather all of the above and progressively more of himself with each closer tier of relationships,” Paul explains.

Another great point – “What Jesus understood is that sometimes God works through a single moment to forever change the course of a person’s life.” For an example of this from my life see this coming Sunday’s inspiration article focused on Testimonies. Social media is just one more way for God to connect people. One more thing for God to use to pour into someone’s life, even if it is for only a moment.

Part 3: Here is where the social media tools come in. Part 2 established that people will have different types of relationships both in person and online. One way to organize your social networks into categories (similar to the pyramid above) is through using lists. In the article Paul explains the usefulness of Twitter lists and Facebook lists as the primary way to organize your network. An alternative suggested in addition to this is Facebook Pages.

Part 4: Last time was the tools, now the tips. In this article, Paul gives 12 tips on how to engage people through social media like Jesus did on a day to day basis. He divides the tips into 4 sections:
1. Prepare Yourself
2. Set Boundaries
3. Speak As You Are Spoken To
4. Listen and Respond

Part 5: This final section leaves us with 7 ways to keep the cruise control off in our online conversations. Each tip is filled with insight. The two that hit home for me are points 4 and 7. They get to the root of why writing is all about authenticity.
4) How are you doing on the humility thing? Are you really engaging people in social media to serve them? Or are you finding yourself posting just to get attention or increase your stats?
7) As with everything we do in life, we’ve got to constantly be praying for guidance and listening to the Holy Spirit. Don’t keep doing what you’re doing out of a sense of compulsion or obligation, but only out of a sense of God’s calling.

For step by step help on how to integrate this into your online presence check out our Salty Waffle classes!