Monday, February 24, 2014

Social Media Ain’t a Covenant Community (or Why Social Media Shouldn’t be a Spectator’s Sports)

Count me as a friend of technology and social media. In fact, I recently wrote a piece for the CBMW Manual blog argue for the God glorifying benefits of technology and social media. God created all things and said, “This is good.” As Christians, we start there. He also gave us the command to create, work, and have dominion. The good includes these endeavors, and, therefore, includes our work as sub-creators (a quip borrowed from J. R. R. Tolkien). Of course, many people take beautiful, good, God glorifying things and turn them into ugly, perverted orcs. We must use discernment anchored to Scripture. I say all that as a preface for my post today.

I want to now pushback on social media. Some use social media as a stand in for flesh and blood covenant community. Social media and technology can never replace the living Church. You see it’s easy to defriend, unfollow, block, or not pin someone who you disagree with on social media. It’s easy to anonymously criticize someone. It’s easy to sub-tweet. It’s easy to make generalizations. It’s easy to slander someone when you don’t have to look them in the face.

It’s much harder when you are committed, hands calloused, to a living, local church. You can’t defriend, unfollow, block, or ignore someone, when you’re face to face with them week in and week out. It’s much harder to take pot shots and snipe in this context. (Notice I didn’t say impossible. It happens. We’ve all seen it.)

There are some in the Christian blog-o-sphere who are known for being shall we say prickly. I’ve heard more than once though, “So and so is a great guy [or gal], when you talk to them face to face or on the phone.” God forbid that our online persona is different than our true life person.

Where it has, social media devolves into a spectator sport on the level of WWE’s Monday Night Raw. We all have our favorite Christian wrestler...errrr I mean blogger, pastor, ministry leader. They don their two size too small spandex costume and strut out to their rockin’ theme song to the tune of three weekly blog posts. Many of us sit in the stands and cheer them on. We jeer their opponents. We mock and slur the other side. We are entertained.

All of this is just sad. This kind of social media spectacle only survives where anemic ecclesiology thrives. Where a robust eccelsiology is alive and well. This kind of spectacle will be on the fringe and shortly extinct. Where churches are rehearsing the gospel weekly and sending the Church out to rehearse the gospel in their daily lives, social media becomes an opportunity to rehearse the gospel in a small sliver of life. It doesn’t become the Monday night main event.

So let’s use technology and social media for the glory of God, but let’s not make it a spectator sport. Let’s always prioritize our local covenant communities. Let’s always prioritize our families. Let’s always prioritize soaking our lives in the gospel over watching our favorite online persona drop their finishing move on the opposition.

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