(As is the case whenever a post is statistics-rich, I have included resources and links at the end of the article so you can check me and the statistics and deepen your research. It is important to me that facts you find on leaderhelps.com are actually facts.)
You already know some of the big ones, no doubt.
- 18% of social media users report not being able to go “a few hours” without checking Facebook.
- 16% of adults get their morning “news” from Facebook or Twitter.
- 5 million images are uploaded daily on Instagram.
- Twitter users send out just over half a billion tweets each day.
- On average, Americans spend about 25% of their work time browsing social media for non-work-related reasons.
But for this edition of Friday Fives, I’m focusing on what I’m considering five important statistics for church leaders. What I mean specifically is that these are five highly relevant stats for pastors, ministers, lay leaders and small group leaders for understanding those they lead.
#5 Millennials and Social Networking
Stat: Users between 15 and 19 spend at least 3 hours per day on average on social media while users between 20 and 29 spend two hours per day.
Relevance: Perhaps most importantly, if the average leaderhelps.com user is between 40 and 54, that means that the social media habits of those we lead are probably dramatically different than ours. I’ve heard leaders lament “these kids today,” but, of course, that’s never an informed course. It doesn’t do any more good than those who wagged their fingers at screaming Beatles fans 50 years ago.
Question to Ask & Answer: How can you learn more about the role of social media in the lives (and spiritual lives) of those you lead and use that information to deepen your communication with them?
#4 Focus on Facebook
Stat: While Facebook use has plateaued, it is still, by far the dominant social media application. In 2014, 71% of social media users followed Facebook while Linkedin and Pinterest tied for a distant second at 28%. The same study found that Facebook users are getting older, with the 55-64 demographic its fastest growing. In addition, increasingly, people are pairing Facebook with another site, such as Instagram or Pinterest.
Relevance: It’s too early to give up on Facebook, but if you’re not already adding Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest to your mix of social media ministry tools, you’re almost too late.
Question: Do you give those you lead a good reason to access your Facebook and Instagram sites to interactively access meaningful content on a daily basis?
#3 Future Use
Stat: Experts project that, as “digital natives,” Generation Y/Millennials will not “grow out of” their dependence on social networks. In a study by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center, the vast majority agreed with the following statement regarding the likely future of social media use by millennials: “By 2020, members of Generation Y (today’s “digital natives”) will continue to be ambient broadcasters who disclose a great deal of personal information in order to stay connected and take advantage of social, economic and political opportunities. Even as they mature, have families, and take on more significant responsibilities, their enthusiasm for widespread information sharing will carry forward.”
Relevance: It’s actually a very important question: Will social media turn out to be just a fad that eventually cycles down, or will it become a way of life, particularly for millennials. Experts predict the latter. Perhaps the best support of the view is that, for those you lead who were born after 1990, the world of social media and mobile technology is really the only world they have ever known.
Question: Is your church ahead, on or behind the social media curve when it comes to the millennials you lead? Can you anticipate what the future of ministry will look like as a result of this stat?
#2: The Ubiquitous Smartphone
Stat: 25% of smartphone owners age 18-44 say they can’t recall the last time their smartphone wasn’t next to them.
Relevance: As if you didn’t know, we’re living in an unprecedented time. There really has never been anything like the smartphone in terms of a human’s dependence on technology. In the past, we usually had to go to our technology. The phone was in the kitchen, the TV was in the living room, the radio was in the bedroom or the car. These electronics had their place. Now, we are their place.
#1 Connection and Isolation
Stat: A 2013 study from University of Michigan Psychologist Ethan Kross concluded that Facebook use can erode the sense of well-being and increase loneliness. In addition, the more time people spent on Facebook, the less happy they felt over time. (The study references a 2012 Atlantic article: ‘We are living in an isolation that would have been unimaginable to our ancestors, and yet we have never been more accessible,’ wrote Stephen Marche.)
Relevance: I only cite one reference here, but there are many that allow a reasonable conclusion: The increase in “communication” through social media is not resulting in a deepening sense of connection among the people we lead. If the local church doesn’t step in and help close this connection gap, it’s missing a golden opportunity.
Question to Ask & Answer: What can church leaders do to make their ministries synonymous with connection and relationship in the minds of their members?