Culture

Rethinking Social Media and the Church: From digital consumer to community creators (Part 1)


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I’ve come across three common sentiments church thinkers and pastors have about social media:

  1. Social media is impersonal and artificial.
  2. Social media is wasteful and distracting.
  3. Social media is harmful and distorting.

99% of these sentiments have been delivered to me through our modern day ark called “social media.” Do you see the irony?

But before we go further, let me just say, “Yes and Amen!” There is truth in these statements, especially in our present context.

But these concerns and warnings do not paint the full picture of how we should be engaging our socio-technological paradigms in the church.

Your phone now has the capability to:

  1. Start a non-profit that helps your city’s most dire needs.
  2. Crowdfund the next church plant.
  3. Write a book about Jesus
  4. Create, record, and upload your very own podcast to discuss critical issues in the church.
  5. Contact directly through private messaging your favorite author, pastor, etc.
  6. Vlog, blog, chat and share your faith and story.

And a million other things. Here’s the problem though: most of us don’t even think to do 1-6 or 7-1,000,000. Why? Because most of us identify (by our habits at least) as digital consumers that leverage social media for essentially one thing only: SELF.

And if that is true then sentiment 1, 2, and 3 apply all day long. Because Christianity teaches that if we do anything that is self-centered and consumeristic then it will always be impersonal and inauthentic, wasteful and distracting, and ultimately, harmful and distorting.

This is the great pastoral concern. And it fits doesn’t it? So what is the solution? I keep hearing to “get off.”

And if we only use social media to self-promote, then I would be much more resistant to it.

But here’s the counterpoint. Social media is not just a fad. It’s not going away. It’s becoming more sophisticated and more accessible at the same time.

If we jettison technological connection, then we are choosing to forfeit the biggest channel for which we can share the goods of Jesus Christ.

Here’s the problem, we just don’t have enough data. If you look around a lot of people are self-promoting, or self pontificating, or bible thumping in the name of Jesus. I see this on my news feed all the time. It doesn’t take any effort or any thought.

But my experience has been that some of the best examples of salt and light, faithfulness and authenticity have come through social media. And I wouldn’t know about it any other way. It’s not a fluke. We are more a digital world today than we were yesterday. The reality is you cannot reach me without technology and social media anymore. And the opposite is true as well–I cannot get in touch with you, not a bit, without technology.

So if we want to be more:

  1. Personal and authentic
  2. Purposeful and captivating
  3. Beneficial and philanthropic

Then we need to rethink social media. And we need movement from digital consumer to community creators.

We need a new paradigm in the church to raise up disciples who can navigate the digital world we live in today.

Here is how we do it:

  1. Commit to creating something.
  2. Commit to doing it every day.
  3. Commit to making it valuable for others.
  4. Commit to worshipping Jesus through your endeavors.

To be continued…

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