Social Media and the Church


Bosco Peters made me aware of these videos recently which are very sobering news for all of us who aspire to communicate our message to others and really does make me wonder how effective our social media communications are.  Is it just a way to connect to people or can we really develop meaningful relationships and help people move into a more intimate relationship with God in this way?  What do you think?

Part of what I struggle with is do we unquestioningly take on the tools of the culture without really thinking about their impact on us and our faith.

First the challenge: there are more and more competing voices out there.  How do we convey our message about Christ effectively so that we are actually reaching those that have never heard the message?  On the internet I often feel that I am only talking to the converted.  How relevant is what we say to those who are listening – are they indeed listening or just browsing and flitting quickly through?

Now as the techy in our family I am always the first to embrace new technologies but I still struggle with some of the tensions I see between them and my faith.  Is virtual church really church?

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7 Responses

  1. This is a question that has come up for me as I wrestle with the addictive nature of some of the social media implementations. I don’t have any answers, but I wil share some of the questions that I am struggling with:

    How real is the community that I am connected to on FB?

    Is the time required to “keep up” with Social networking taking away from face to face relationships?

    What needs does social networking meet? Is it doing a good job of meeting those needs?

    Is social networking homogenizing my social group?

    Am I still listening to or hearing the voices of disagreement or have I unfriended them?

    Am I still finding time to listen to Christ?

    Sorry about the lack of answers to the questions, but I still haven’t figured any of them out yet.

    Gil

    • Gil,
      I have some of the same questions but am not sure of the answers and of course there are no right answers which makes it even more difficult. But I agree – I have over 1300 facebook friends many of whom I have never met & never really interact with. Calling them friends does not seem appropriate. Maybe if I think of them as connections it helps – my expectations are not as great.

  2. The question you struggle with is one that I often think about in relation to the end times prophesy regarding the mark on the hand or head. Even now we are seeing biometric security becoming common place. I think it will only be a short few years when we will see fingerprint scanners or retina scanners being used instead of barcode scanners to identify us to vendors, security posts etc. Already laptops are using biometric devices to lock/unlock access to the device.

    It is only a very small jump from where we are now, to a full biometric security based society, which will be readily accepted because there won’t be fraud etc.

    I wonder what Christians will say then? Will they willingly accept the technology, or will they back up and resist because of the verses of Revelation?

  3. Focusing directly on social networking: It has for me been a great asset because my friends are all around the world, so I’ve been able to reconnect with them in a way that was not possible until Facebook came along. I personally know about 95% of all my friends, and intend to keep it like that. So for me, it is a fantastic medium. I’ve noticed that generally, my NZ friends who haven’t traveled from the home town where they grew up, have not joined FB, so it would appear that they don’t need a virtual network because they have a physical one in their own town or city.

  4. Brian – interesting questions. Of course there are many Christians – myself included – who do not take those verses in revelation literally. In fact I think that verses like those can be used by Christians as an excuse to disconnect from the world. I think our focus should be on how we can engage the world and be God’s light shining in the darkness rather than thinking about whether or not the end times are upon us

  5. Hi Christine

    (Have been very much enjoying your site by the way- so be encouraged that this slice of technology is worth the effort, even if we are already ‘converted’!)

    I live in a fairly isolated part of Scotland, and so the possibilities offered by social networking has been a constant theme for us. We have started several initiatives here using FB, and ning, to allow people to connect when face to face would not have been geographically possible.

    Recently I spent some time reviewing the success of this project- and blogged a couple of reflections-
    http://thisfragiletent.wordpress.com/2009/02/22/friendship-and-the-internet/
    http://thisfragiletent.wordpress.com/2009/06/28/losing-faith-in-the-world-wide-web-a-little-rant/

    My thoughts were pretty much that the internet is a tool- just llike books, telephones etc- for communication. But it is never enough. There will always be a need for deeper community, and for a body of people who would display this, because ‘the word became flesh and dwelt amongst us…’

    Cheers!

    Chris

  6. Chris, Good reflections and thanks for making me aware of these. This really is a difficult issue to grapple with – yes it is a tool but when people are becoming addicted and when it is taking us away from the establishment of real community I think that there is also a dark side that we need to be up front about.

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