Tag Archives: Christians on Facebook

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Christian. Stop using Facebook as your private theological message board and start using it to be on message about Jesus

Ok. Long title. I know.

megaphone on facebook

I hate to get on anything like a high horse when it comes to how people use social media. I’m far from perfect when it comes to what I post on Facebook, and I’d love to be more authentic about my life and about the part my living hope in Jesus plays in my life so that people find the Gospel attractive because of how I approach this platform.

I hate to be negative – it’s much easier to point out what people are doing wrong, rather than pointing out what they’re doing right. But seriously.

Christian.

Shut up.

Stop using Facebook as a sounding board or a location for a debate about whatever argument is the hot button issue of the day. Start a blog. Start a forum. Start a private group on Facebook. Meet up in person. Go to theological college.

Just stop using Facebook to air your theological differences. Differences that arise about 20 years after you figure out who Jesus is. Not everybody is as enlightened as you, or as ready to hear about the obscure nuances surrounding a Greek word. I think you’ve picked the wrong Greek word anyway – preaching is preaching. Not teaching.

Preaching is about pointing people to Jesus. The king. It’d be great if you started using Facebook to do that more, combining your Facebook clout to push positive Gospel stuff into people’s newsfeeds (and I know many of you already do – just stop doing the distracting stuff).

Facebook will serve up what its algorithms decide is popular. If you’re a Christian on Facebook – help your non-Christian friends meet Jesus. Not your theological hobby horse. Help them meet Jesus by sharing stuff about him. Authentically. Stuff you read that excites you. Comment on threads of other Christians to encourage them. People will know Jesus is for real when they see he changes the way we relate to each other – online and offline. People will know Jesus is for real when they see the love we have for each other when we use communication mediums differently to others. Facebook is full of narky arguments about politics and economics and other dross. Why are we adding to the noise.

Let me leave you with a visual. An image of what you are doing when you dive in, boots and all, into the latest controversy. Whatever your contribution.

Christians. Picture two people with megaphones standing in a crowded public square. Yelling at each other about obscure theological differences. Picture those two people being joined by other people. Yelling essentially the same thing. With megaphones. The noise amplifies. This is how Facebook works – it decides what to put in a newsfeed based on how much noise it is making. Every time you comment on one of these controversial threads it throws your post into newsfeeds of all sorts of people who have no idea what you’re talking about.

Now.

Picture the crowd, looking around. Puzzled at why the obnoxious noise is interrupting their lives. Picture how seriously they’ll take you when you turn around to tell them about Jesus.

Jesus is great, and I’d love people to be hearing about him through how we use Facebook, not getting an update on the latest example of Christians bashing each other over the head over our minute disagreements (important though they may be).

This is how some of you are using Facebook. Please stop. Find somewhere else to yell at each other. Facebook is a public square. It is not a BBQ with friends, you aren’t at the pub, you are in front of thousands of people – potentially tens or hundreds of thousands.

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Facebook is messing with your head: Get messy on purpose

I promised six parts to this mammoth series way back at the start. In January.

And here is the last one.

I was going to make part six a list of suggested reading in this area – but you should just read TheoMedia (my review), and From the Garden to the City, you can also check out my thesis and the companion piece I wrote applying it to social media specifically (PDF).

This video has been doing the rounds.

It’s compelling.

The basic thesis of the first post in this series was that social media isn’t ‘neutral’ – it’s not simply a tool. It effects us. It changes us. That’s basically what this video is saying – only it’s also taking a position. The changes are bad. Mostly. I think I agree. A bit.

But am I less committed to being present on Facebook as a result – or figuring out how to use it as a platform for presenting the Gospel? No.

I think the Gospel offers us a significant toolkit not for redeeming Facebook (or social media) but for subverting it in a way that helps people connect with Jesus.

I think the story at the heart of the Gospel provides us with a communication model. A communication model based on getting messed up through the mediums we use to communicate, in order to be heard by messed up people.

I think deliberately getting messed up by a medium as an act of love for the people using the medium – aware of the cost – is a way for us to imitate Christ. Who became a communication medium – human – in a way that cost him everything.

Jesus stepped out of his infinite, immortal, divinity, out of his perfectly loving eternal relationship with the Trinity – and into the flesh and blood and muck of human existence, and the humiliation of the Cross, and that moment of separation from the Father and Holy Spirit. Huge cost. To communicate and relate to us. His enemies.

That is costly.

Interactions on Facebook appear low cost. Facebook is free (because you’re the product, not the customer). There is the hidden cost this video speaks of – the cost to our relationships and quality of life.

One thing I think we need to figure out, as Christians, is how to make our interactions on Facebook – and platforms like it – more costly for us, and more beneficial for others.

Fleeing social media and the people you have limited contact with because you realise it is costing you quality of life might be attractive when a British sounding guy says we should do it in a compelling spoken word – but if being on social media allows me to pray for someone in a more informed way, or allows me to offer some words of comfort to a hurting friend, to give a reason for the hope that I have, to present the Gospel, to be a token Christian friend, or to supplement and facilitate real world relationships – then I think that is worth it.

Absolutely.

My challenge is to use Facebook to do those things – as long as there are people there. Though my natural inclination is to use Facebook to make myself a bigger deal. (NOTE: When people move on to something new, it’ll be our job as Christians to find ways to use whatever that new thing is to introduce people to Jesus at cost to ourselves).

My challenge is not to flee Facebook to avoid getting messed up and to have a more fulfilling life. Though that’s my natural response when I watch a video like the one above.

The message at the heart of that video is kind of selfish. Compelling. But selfish. Maybe I was in a bad mood when I watched it. Maybe I misunderstood. But I won’t choose what communication mediums to use on the basis of their impact on my life, but rather on the potential impact that choice might have for others who don’t know Jesus.

I have eternity to have a fulfilling life. In this life I want to get messy and messed up on purpose. For the sake of others. Because that’s what Jesus did for me.

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WWJT: Can’t think of your own lame Christian status update, there’s a site for that

What would Jesus Tweet. It’s an important question for any would be Christian Confucius out there looking to use Facebook or Twitter as a platform for spiritual warfare.

Here’s a not very funny or self aware song that ponders a similar question… (via JesusNeedsNewPR)

It’s weird that when old people try to be hip and cool they use images of Dell desktop PCs from about 10 years ago in their hip, cutting edge, satire.

But that’s neither here nor there. This is a public service announcement for those out there who:

a) think posting one liners worthy of a church sign is of some benefit.
b) can’t come up with their own pithy one liners, you know, by reading the Bible.
c) want to use Facebook to annoy their friends, both Christian and non-Christian, rather than to bolster real relationships.

If you are that person, then rest easy. Here is a website that is a suppository of options, you can pull them out of your… ChristianStatusUpdates.com

Here’s a sampling from today…

“____ The best way to start any day off right is to tell God how thankful you are.
____ P.U.S.H.> (P)ray (U)ntil (S)omething (H)appens
____ is strong because I know my weaknesses. I am wise because I know I’ve been foolish. I laugh because I’ve known sadness.
____ Don’t pass judgment on someone else’s life without looking at your own life first…
____ You know it’s grace when God gives you something you don’t deserve.”

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Giving notice

I was a little bit surprised that so many people spoke out in defense of announcements at church. I want to be clear that I’m talking about things that are generally covered in the “news” section of a church bulletin, and hopefully these days the church’s website and Facebook page*.

Announcements are dead wood. They should be cut. Like a pine forest. They should just be printed on literal dead wood.

I don’t buy into the whole “seeker sensitive” style service where everything is run for visitors and the people who are part of the church family are ignored. But if you’re spending 10 minutes reading out the handout that everybody is holding already** that’s 10 minutes of wasted time. You could, though I wouldn’t, fit three more songs or one long prayer in that time. There are myriad things that can be done in ten minutes that are more beneficial to church life than boring advertisements for things that are no doubt already boringly described in your boring newsletter.

You know what happens when church is boring – people fall out of windows and die. And Paul isn’t going to pop in and resurrect the poor souls that expire during your overly long promo of the church working bee.

* Here are some great tips from Mikey for how churches (and in fact any organisation) should use Facebook. He’s much better equipped than me to comment on this matter… I’ve only got 27 fans on my Facebook fan page after a week of relentless self promotion… you could become one now. It would make me feel special…

Here are some more Facebook friendly resources I found through Church Marketing Sucks… an e-book called “Facebook for Pastors” and a set of general principles on using Facebook for your business.

**And while I’m on that note – what’s with churches (not just ours, though it’s guilty here) being so miserly about the number of handouts they print. One per couple? Per day? Are you serious? My attendance isn’t worth 5 cents to you? You’re expecting me to “give generously” when the offering comes around and yet I have to share the handout…

I also miss handouts with sermon outlines written in them.