Fox Lo, Director of Fellowship Department
“Your work is awesome, but no one knows about it,” is how the FES ministry has been described by many people. What does this tell us about the communication problem of our ministry? How does high quality but low exposure of the ministry affect the overall progress of student evangelism? Should we insist that physical gatherings are the only way to go? How can we use social media to broaden the reach of our ministry?
However, “the medium is the message” (coined by the communication theorist Marshall McLuhan), so can messages originally carried in physical texts (such as paper books, leaflets and newsletters) ‘migrate’ directly to social networking media? How does a message change when it enters social media? How does the message and the presentation model need to be changed in order to reach the audience effectively?
Given the nature of our community, it seems easy to ask questions. But answering these questions requires trial and error in practice. Instead of thinking in an ivory tower, let us humble ourselves and ‘Trial and Error’.¹ Take our Inter-college Team as an example, we started the College Christian Daily page on Facebook in September 2015. Although it was late, it was better than being absent and it allowed our team to gain some experience of success and failure.
However, social media is changing rapidly. As the generation that “relies on Facebook to express their feelings for meaning” in the lyrics of Serrini’s “Kowloon Blondie Ling” is “aging out”, the digital natives² of the millennial generation are becoming the majority on campus. The Inter-college Team also opened an Instagram (Ig) account in July 2017 and our co-workers who are digital immigrants³ have been working hard to try out Ig.
The rapid development of pandemic in 2020 catalyzed the use of social media, and Mission Camp was transformed into a partially online Mission Conference in response to the outbreak. We experimented with a mix of online meeting software, social media and physical groups in an alternating “online-offline” format to organize a camp for over 100-200 people. Learning from this experience, our Inter-college Team has subsequently used a similar model to organize a well-received Bible Study camp.
By coincidence, as a middle-aged man using Ig casually, I met a group of young KOLs who were involved in the Delta Movement, a Christian cultural movement. With the aim of arousing young people’s interest in theology, we hope to establish a platform for young people to share their faith and start the “Theology for Layperson” live online programme in January 2021.
With the recent massive migration of students or leaving Hong Kong for further studies, the development of social media ministry seems to be a point of no return. We will continue our efforts to use social media for live streaming, combined with other online meeting software, pre-produced audio-visual training materials and other digital materials, as well as physical gatherings, aiming to reach a globally dispersed group of Cantonese speaking students and graduates.
¹ which is indeed the name of a popular YouTube channel for young people.
² More information can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_native (Editor’s note: Digital native refers to a generation that has grown up in an environment surrounded by electronic products and the Internet).
³ Editor’s note: In contrast to digital natives, digital immigrants are the generation that only gained access to electronic products and the Internet after growing up.