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“I couldn’t do church without it!” I exclaimed to the other ladies in the car.  Two of them agreed with emphatic nods and “yeses” as we told our third friend about a private Facebook group for the ladies of our church.

Social media is not the church.

Despite how commonplace social media is in our culture, it was never God’s plan for building relationships and community.

God’s plan for building community and connecting people with one another is through the church.

Yet sadly, many people are replacing the community of the church with Facebook, blogs, and other avenues of social media.

And too often, we find that social media only furthers sinful thoughts and actions like these:

  • Cultivating bitterness and jealousy toward members of our church family.
  • Stirring up within us a spirit of discontentment.
  • Creating opportunities for us to doubt our identity in Christ.
  • Providing wedges for us to stick in between us and our relationships with others.

I’ve been there. I have read status updates that have made me wince. I’ve been offended at the knowledge that, for whatever reason, I was not invited to that party, or that a person cares about building a relationship with those other people more than with me. But that’s not how it is supposed to be.

Social media should not drive us away from real community; it should draw us to it.

We should use social media to connect even more with those that are part of our local–and global–church family.

Social media should not drive us away from real community; it should draw us to it.  We should use social media to connect even more with those that are part of our local--and global--church family.

But how? How can we turn something that frequently divides us into something that can unite us?

In the car that night, those three ladies and I talked about how connecting on Facebook (or any social media) allows us to recognize people and slowly, but surely, match names and faces. Thanks to Facebook, when Sunday morning comes, we can walk through the door and do more than smile–we can say, “Hi {insert name}, how are you today?”

We can also use the information we see on social media throughout the week as a conversation starter on Sunday morning, rather than just stand there feeling lonely or running right out the church doors.

Instead of letting social media replace our church attendance or our real life interactions, we are choosing to use it to make our face-to-face conversations more meaningful and keep us connected in between Sundays.

Social media is simply a tool.

For those of us who have a personal relationship with Christ, social media is a tool to promote His grace, His love, His faithfulness with “the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10) as well as the watching world.  If or when you find yourself using it to just keep up with the latest “scoop” or to follow a certain person’s drama, I challenge you to reevaluate your use of social media. Use Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and your blogs to enhance your relationships with people in church, not to distract from or destroy them. All for the glory of God.

My prayer is that we will each continually ask God to help us use social media to demonstrate and extend grace to others, even as God, through Christ Jesus, extended grace to us.

This post is an adaptation of an excerpt from the book by Mandy J. Hoffman:
#ReformingSocialMedia: Using Social Media to Glorify God Rather than Self

2 Comments

  1. I’m not sure if I’ve faced the exact problems you’ve mentioned, but as a missionary it is great to be able to have those casual online interactions with friends from all over. It removes the pressure of trying to sum everything up in monthly newsletters or in conversations that happen once a year.

    I was raised that it’s in rather poor taste to publicly discuss social plans, especially if they exclude people who are within earshot. Unfortunately, people don’t follow that rule on FB. So I agree that it can be hard to conduct oneself with grace, especially if you’re the one who’s been left out.

    I don’t know if there is a post coming up, but I think the #1 FB topic that can create conflict is in dating relationships. Now that I’m married I hardly pay attention, but I do occasionally notice flirting among singles online, and it can be awkward if their status is ambiguous. People notice everything: photos you’re tagged in, comments you write, people who visit your page most often…as Christian women we definitely need to guard our integrity in this regard. Not to mention, a guy can get the wrong idea, and vice versa.

    1. Yes, Elizabeth, dating is a challenging and interesting time of life anyhow, let alone mix it with social media. You bring up many reasons why I am passionate about social media and why I wrote the book. While you and I have our personal convictions on how we use it, my deepest desire is for others to not ask “what does Mandy think?”, but rather turn to Scripture to find answers. God’s Word is still relevant even in a world where social media is the norm.

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