Wednesday, August 24, 2011
A New Command I Give You ... Have Lots of Friends On Facebook
While I love much about social networking, I also have some concerns.
As a pastor (more specifically a new church start pastor) one of my primary tasks is to meet people. If I do not connect with people in my community, the chances of them connecting with our new church, and more importantly, with Christ, are going to limited.
I read an article recently about a new church start that has been using social networking to connect with people in their community. The pastor blogs and uses Facebook and Twitter to connect with others in hopes that they in turn will connect their friends and followers to the new church. It has apparently worked for this church. The article mentions that it has been labeled as one of the fastest new church starts in United Methodism.
I believe that social networking is invaluable for connecting people and causes. We have never been able to connect people faster or easier in the history of the world. Millions of people can be made aware of an event or a cause instantaneously. The church would do well to utilize social networking in every way in order to communicate the message.
The problem for me comes when we replace – intentionally or otherwise – genuine, authentic relationships with virtual community.
The pastor of the new church highlighted in the article is quoted as saying, “Jesus hung out where the people were, and today the people hang out on Facebook.”
While it is true that people hang out on Facebook, does this mean that we should reduce “love one another as I have loved you” to “be friends on Facebook?”
I do not think that real community can happen in cyberspace.
I think Facebook, Twitter and blogs are safe spaces that allow us to feel connected, but give us the freedom to hide behind our computer screens, isolate ourselves, and avoid the pain that often comes along with authentic relationships.
Man was alone, and that was not good.
The triune God that we serve is by definition: relational. The Father, Son and Spirit are mysteriously, intimately, and uniquely interrelated.
While you might be able to “follow” JesusofNaz316 on Twitter, you are not going to find a personal relationship with him there.
We are created to be in relationship with God and with each other. Relationship is hard. It’s messy. It’s painful. But it is what we are created for. Anything else falls short of God’s intention for our lives.
Jesus said that he came to give us full life (John 10.10). What does a full life look like? I am not certain, but I know it has something to do with laying down our lives for each other.
And that’s kind of hard to do on Facebook.