2 Ways Social Media is Changing the Christian Faith

My generation (the Millennial generation) has helped usher in a new time and day of information. During my generation, I’ve seen how relationships are grown, managed, and changed like never before. We can now ‘friend’ someone we’ve never met and ‘follow’ someone we’ve never talked face to face with. Social media has literally changed the ‘face’ of society (pun intended).

There’s a lot of debate around whether or not these changes in relationships and society are a good thing or a bad thing for society.

The short answer?

Yes and No.

Yes if we use them properly. If we use more than a drop of common sense and care. If we use it in a way that makes relationships better and not just lazier.

That being said, here are 2 ways social media has changed the Christian faith and the church…

1. Relevance

What did it mean for a church to be ‘relevant’ 8 years ago? It meant that they played music a little differently than other churches and they preached sermons that dealt with the same things people face on a daily basis (and they had a spotlight) . With social media, relevance has taken on a whole new meaning. Sure, it’s still essential that we tackle the real life issues that people deal with, but we have to interact with them during the week too.

Most people spend at least 1/3 of their online time on social networks now. In order to be relevant, Christians and churches have to leverage that to connect people when they’re not in the pews.

2. Evangelism

Yes, the way that you, as a Christian, do evangelism is changed by social media. Every Facebook post you throw up, every picture you post or repost, and every blog you publish says something about you to those people you’ve been trying to reach.

Does that mean we have to watch everything we say? YES. Seriously, I’ve heard more than one unbeliever say that they were turned off by something that their ‘Christian’ friend said online. Leverage social media for evangelism instead.

I don’t mean you have to quote Scripture all day, but instead use it to form purposeful relationships by staying connected with people God has led you toward and that you have influence with.

Now, don’t misunderstand these two ideas. I’m not saying that the Christian message has changed any; that is certainly not the case. I’m saying that the way we portray the Gospel and teach it is changing (or should be changing) rapidly.

Your thoughts? What else has social media changed for the Church? Is it a good thing or a bad thing?

Originally posted here

9 Comments

  1. GREAT POST!
    I think the best kind of “evangelism” comes through friendship (this is an old idea, Francis of Assisi would tell you. You walk the talk “Preach the gospel and if you must, use words”)…but I don’t that think that comes easily through social media.

    Personally, I’ve met and become good friends with others in social media (some have carried over in face-to-face friendship too), but I’m not just going to trust everything they tell me… for a while…

    We can think of it the same way we may use the phone….can we share the gospel over the phone? Of course! Will it be effective? That depends!

    Lots of the way we relate has changed in the last 5 years. Seismic shifts. And it’s made us behave badly far too often. Yet, under the new delivery systems of interpersonal communication lie the principles that have always been true. Relationships are built well when we invest time and build trust!

    Reply
  2. Right on, Jonathan!

    This is something that that people and churches must use to connect with people throughout the week. To be honest, I look for a link to a blog, Facebook page, or Twitter when I check out a church’s website now. Our generation loves to be connected.

    Also, I’ve seen the benefits of using social media for evangelism – especially long distance. It’s fairly simple to shoot a message on a Monday morning to a guy you’re ministering to across the country just to check up on him or to share a video or blog post. I have even received messages about things I have posted on Facebook and Twitter that have deeply encouraged and challenged people that I would not have even imagined.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, bro!

    Reply
  3. Solid stuff, Jonathan.

    As a social media (ab)user I think churches and Christians would do well to follow best practices just like any other tool. When the dotcom craze started every church wanted a website just to have one and I’ve seen many that turned me off because they were done so poorly. It would’ve been better to not have a website or just a clean, static page with their address and service times.

    The same goes for social media. It is a tool to engage with community. I follow my church (& staff) on Twitter and Facebook because they share encouraging scriptures and how excited they are about God and connecting with each other. They genuinely build each other up. With rants about football peppered in w/ instagram photos of food. They’re real people after all. :)

    I think that is what “relevance” boils down to. Being real in the culture/time you live in.

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  4. I don’t necessarily see it as an all good or all bad thing. It’s just a different way of communicating. Missionaries have to alter their communication styles when they go out into the field. Christians who spend a lot of time online have to take a similar approach (apples to oranges comparison I know…).

    The great thing about social is that it can help the gospel spread faster. The bad thing is that false teaching can spread just as quickly. There’s definitely a double-edged sword.

    Reply
  5. Kathleen Ward

    Social media is changing the way we interact and the way we think about ourselves. It gives everyone a voice. It levels the playing field. It allows everyone to contribute and participate.

    I firmly believe that churches need to allow people to move away from rows to seating arrangements which allow people to interact, participate and contribute. To be seen and heard by one another. To connect deeply, be actively engaged, and be empowered to have an impact in the world around us.

    I’m blogging about these ideas at churchinacircle.com. I look forward to seeing some pretty major changes in the established church in the coming 5-10 years.

    Thanks for your blog,

    Kathleen

    Reply

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