Social Media and the Divinity School Student

100 years ago when I was in graduate school at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary…

Okay, it wasn’t 100 years ago, only 31. The pace of change just makes it seem like 100 years.

Anyway, my version of Facebook was a hardcopy directory of all students, printed the first few weeks of each school year (we called it the Funny Book, for obvious reasons). Mail (including tests and papers) was hand-delivered in post office boxes. Research was done in a physical place (library) using objects (books) resulting in papers (typed on a typewriter). GASP!

Today, it’s a little different.

My daughter is beginning her final year of the M Div program at Campbell University Divinity School. She also works part-time as Communications Coordinator for the North Carolina WMU. She is also beginning her second year as a Resident Chaplain for a couple of freshmen girl’s dorms. She loves her life!

Because of my past history at a divinity school and serving on a church staff, and now in a consulting role to church leaders, we often have interesting conversations.

Like the one that followed this question: “How are students at the Div School and in your circle of influence using social media?” Here is her reply:

The divinity school uses it to post pictures of what’s going on during the week at school, serious stuff and fun stuff too, like birthdays’ of professors and when the staff and students are goofing off, or there is a social event, like today, there is a div school tailgating thing after class before the football game. They use Facebook and twitter. Admissions has their own Facebook page along with the Div school itself. They also use it when they go to conferences to announce they are there and if other Campbell people are there, they use it to find them at those conferences and places and such. They post lots of pictures.

Personally, each of the dorms I work with have a Facebook group page so I am a part of that to keep up with events and announcements (keep up with issues in the dorm that the residence life staff have to address) and what official events and unofficial events are going on to go to and get to know the residents. The residents that I am friends with, I keep an eye on their statuses and stuff and if I notice something is wrong and there seems to be a hint of something not right, I make sure to check on them and see how they are doing. Sometimes, Facebook statuses are more informational than just talking with them casually in the hallways and stuff on campus!

One of my dorms LOVES Twitter. The RAs, RD, and residents tweet ALL the time and have conversations with each other. That’s another way I keep up with what’s going on and stay connected. In fact, this dorm is having a program event this semester that is a twitter scavenger hunt. They will have a list of stuff to find and instead of just taking pictures and showing everybody, they will tweet the pics with a hashtag. Whoever finishes with the most items on the list wins, and if there is a tie, then the earliest timestamp on tweet wins! I thought this was an interesting way to use social media to have a dorm event

Ironically, each dorm program has to fit into a certain category and this one is a physical event, because it’s making them get out and walk around campus even though they are using technology and  the Internet to show it!

Just a snapshot of how social media is used in my life! 🙂

Absolutely fascinating.

Okay ChurchWorld leaders, are you paying attention?

 

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The Next Great Generation

Leave it to a Millennial to dig up some research on her own generation and send it to me. Well, that’s my daughter – what can I say?

Part 1 of a 4-part series on Generations in ChurchWorld

Last week this post introduced the generational lens that I view a lot of things through. Today I want to look at the first of four generations active in ChurchWorld leadership roles today, and the implications for you as a leader with your own team. The other three generations will be examined the rest of this week.

Just in case you wondered, there is a fifth generation that’s almost in a position of leadership – those born from the late ‘90s on. The oldest of that generation is already leading your youth or student groups, even without a position of leadership – but that is another series for another day! Now about those Millennials…

The Next Great Generation

Meet the Millennials, born in or after 1982 through the late ‘90s  – the “Babies on Board” of the early Reagan years, the “Have You Hugged Your Child Today?” sixth graders of the early Clinton years, the teens of Columbine, the much-touted Class of 2000 entering the new Millennium, and this year, poised to enter their thirties.

As a group, Millennials are unlike any other youth generation in living memory. They are more numerous, more affluent, better educated, and more ethnically diverse. More importantly, they are beginning to manifest a wide array of positive social habits that older Americans no longer associate with youth, including a new focus on teamwork, achievement, modesty, and good conduct.

When you fit these changes into the broader rhythms of American history, you can get a good idea of what kind of adult generation the Millennials have demonstrated so far, and are likely becoming. You can foresee their future hopes and fears, strengths and weaknesses, as they rise to adulthood and, in time, to power. You can understand how today’s young adults are on the way to becoming a powerhouse generation, full of technology planners, community shapers, institution builders, and world leaders. Many observers think this generation will dominate the twenty-first century like today’s fading and ennobled G.I. Generation dominated the twentieth. Millennials have a solid chance to becomeAmerica’s next great generation, celebrated for their collective deeds a hundred years from now.

– from “Millennials Rising” by Neil Howe and William Strauss

And they are the “young gun” leaders chomping at the bit in ChurchWorld today.

Millennials want to make a difference from the day they arrive on the scene, and think they can. After all, they had parents who told them how great they were. They listened to Baby Einstein to get smarter. They expected to get an A in school, and if they didn’t, they negotiated with the school staff.

Millennials bring a lot of valuable skill sets in terms of thinking outside the box and in the world of technology. They are the first generation that are digital natives. They don’t know what status quo means, but they will be the first to speak up is something doesn’t work.

Some thoughts to consider when leading Millennials:

  • Provide specific examples of what you expect at the office
  • Give them feedback at least once a month
  • Capable of learning several tasks simultaneously and performing them admirably
  • Flexible scheduling is important in developing a balanced life
  • “Fun” is not an F-word; it’s a vital aspect of a meaningful, productive workplace
  • Leadership is a participative process; they will learn best from leaders who engage them
  • Continuous learning is a way of life
  • Diversity is expected
  • Being hyper-connected is normal

By 2015 (less than four years away!) Baby Boomers will cede the majority of the workforce to the Millennials. When you consider the changes in the amount of knowledge available at our fingertips, the advent of social technologies, and the expansion of the global economy over the past decade, it’s no wonder that generational collisions are inevitable – even in ChurchWorld.

Are you ready?

Generational Disclosure: I am the parent of three Millennials: a 27 year-old son completing Air Force Basic Training, married with a daughter who is nine months old; a 23 year-old daughter who is employed as a communication director and is completing a Masters in Divinity; and an 18 year-old son who is beginning college this fall as a culinary arts/food services management major. My generational studies start at home!