blogging social networking

Trust Agents 4a: The Archimedes Effect

Written by evdaddy

Archimedes Lever“Online communities are valuable. They can be reached more quickly and leveraged more effectively, and the right kind of trust agent can work with those communities to effect actionable change.”

As people who follow Jesus, this principle that Brogan and Smith identify is important for us. To bring about the kingdom of God “on earth as it is in heaven” takes servant-leaders (trust agents) who can help initiate “actionable change” in our world, and the good news is that social media provides a new and wonderful avenue for doing that.

The authors teach us about leverage – “using the advantage you have in one place to help you in another,” and arbitrage – “using something that is less valuable to one person and benefiting from its greater value to someone else.”

To Brogan and Smith, meeting a lot of people online, even superficially, is important. Taking the friendship to the next level by having a face-to-face meeting can cement those relationships and gives yourself an advantage. While I understand the idea here, using this language as it relates to following and serving Jesus makes me uneasy. That may be because I am more introverted. Later they clarify that trust agents don’t use people for their own purposes. It is important to carefully distinguish between using and knowing people.

Trust agents must learn to leverage time so that real relationships can be built with the many, many internet friends we may have. I would love to hear how others of you manage your time on social networks. I have a tendency to spend too much time on this area of my life. I don’t think I am alone in that.

3 simple ways that I attempt to build relationships with people using social media:

  1. Become friends with the friends of my friends
  2. Comments (blogs and Facebook) and replies (Twitter)
  3. Facebook birthday calendar and the new “reconnect with” feature (Facebook attempts to remind me of people I haven’t connected with in a while by telling me so in the right side of the news feed)


  1. How have you seen social media used for something good?
  2. How do you handle the tension when it comes getting more “friends” or “followers” so that you can accomplish your purposes, even if they are good purposes? Is it “right” to rack up as many friends as possible so that you can then attempt to influence them to consider your ministry or cause?
  3. How does introversion/extraversion effect one’s interaction through social media?
  4. What are some practical ways that you build relationships through social media?

Everett Bracken is the former director of the CIA, and currently serves as President Obama’s personal spiritual advisor. When he is not doing that he directs the Parkview Christian Learning Center in Lilburn, GA where he lives with his wife and 2 kids. He blogs at

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  • I agree with you about the distinction between “using” and “knowing”. Where the issue seems to come up is in discussions about evangelism. Many Christians are all about sharing the gospel, but on the other end it the person feels like they are being “used” and not “known”.

    The other side of the problem are the people that are so into “knowing” the other person that they never get around to sharing the gospel. Both sides have pitfalls.

    I am most uncomfortable with Trust Agents around these types of areas. But that is probably in large part because I am not working for a company that sells anything. I don’t really have a message to get across. So that doesn’t get to me. What does get to me is building social networks to help one another. And when you think about it that way, then the larger the network (to the point of actually knowing what is in the network) the better the network is able to help one another.

    If you just want the network to help you, then you want it really large because it is all one way. If you want the network to help one another, then it has to be a size where you can know the parts and connect them together.

  • […] Guest Blogging Today 10.28.09 | 264No Comments Guest Blogging TodayI am a part of a very interesting group blog (at discussing the book “Trust Agents” by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith.  It is about using the web to build influence, improve reputation, and earn trust.  If this is something that is of interest to you, I would encourage you to come check it out. […]

  • Adam, I really like what you have to say about networks. We hear so much about numbers in regards to blog readership, twitter followers, etc. that it can become addicting.

    I have been wondering how Jesus might have used social media if he were around today.

  • 1. Paul and I share some friends, Molly and Joseph Bail who live in Kenya ( and have built an orphanage for children who have lost their parents some way or another. When Molly comes across a child who needs extraordinary care because of a burn or addiction or whatever the case may be we blog about it and the money comes which means that kid gets to live another day. Social media at its best.

    2. I see nothing wrong with racking up as many friends possible to support your cause or organization. The problem begins when we are ONLY interested in our cause or organization and are unwilling to extend the same friendship and courtesy to listen to the other voices in our sphere of influence.

    3. I’m a extrovert born and raised so I can only speak to my experience. For me, social media and online influence can become addicting. All those people out there just waiting for me to become friends with them…all those networks and lunches and conferences and widgets and…okay, I need to count to three and relax for a minute…alright I’m fine…really.

    4. Join the conversation…appropriately. Comment, “like”, RT, and repost. Know when to interject and when to listen and don’t be that girl/guy that hogs all the spotlight. (Nobody likes a social media whore.)

  • I think that is why City Reaching ( for more, but basically it is trying to get the church of a geography to work together to build the kingdom) has seemed to work really well in small town, but often hasn’t gotten very far in large cities. You can’t work together if you can’t envision the members of your network. In a small town there are 50 to 300 churches and they at least know of one another. In Chicago, where I have done some research there are 2700 church in the city and about 7000 in the Metro area. Even only counting Evangelical churches there are still around 3000 in the metro area. So if you want churches to work together then you have to organize in a geography that is small enough for people to know what is going on. The problem in large cities is that even if you pick a neighborhood, the churches primary relationships are usually with other like churches that are outside that geography so they are torn between working with churches that agree with them in everything (but are across the city) or churches that are close but don’t agree with everything. The result is that the work is diffuse and not seen by the community because it is being done by just a few churches.

  • Jan, that is an awesome way to use social media to help your friends in Kenya!

    I would like to read some more about personality types and social media, so if anyone knows of anything on that topic, let me know.

  • Good post Everett.

    1. Jan stole my best example of using social media for good. But I think one of the best things about social media is it allows us as Christians to live out our faith more transparently. As I do my day with God, that gets reflected in my FB updates, tweets, and blog posts.

    2. I limit my FB friends to family and personal friends. But I don’t see a problem with trying to get as many twitter followers and blog readers as possible as long as long as its done in a way that honors their value as a person and is not just using them to accomplish your goals.

    3. The introvert/extrovert question has got the wheels spinning in my mind because I’m introverted but online I tend to be more of an initiator. Not sure how that works.

    4. Jan had some great suggestions.

    One other thing I wanted to add is Brogan & Smith recommend meeting a lot of people online and then finding ways to meet face to face. A couple weeks ago at Catalyst I met Tim Schraeder, Scott Williams, and Brandon Smith in person for the first time. Then yesterday at Cultivate I had the chance to meet Mary Beth Stockdale and Justin Wise and talk again with Tim. You guys are even more wonderful offline than you are online. And that’s just mentioning the people in this group blog project. I met lots of other people as well who I’ve only interacted with online until then. I would honestly say I enjoyed the relational aspect of those conferences more than the content of the sessions (and the sessions were great!)

  • Paul, I think you are right about meeting people in person too. I was really bummed that I had to miss the Catalyst meet-up. I was literally 1 minute away when a family issue came up and I had to turn around and leave. I am looking for more opportunities to do that.

  • Paul – it was so nice to meet you at Cultivate! Great talking with you and sharing a meal with you and others we’ve met online. You are so kind!

    It’s nice to go somewhere and know that you’ll meet an online friend. I believe online friendships have great value, and always look for an opportunity to meet in person. Both at Cultivate and Story, I felt I was entering a room of friends. And, the conversations can continue so easily. Just makes me smile.

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