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The Great Social Network Debate…or “Excuse Me but your hash tag is all over my twitter feed” August 11, 2013

Posted by regan222 in Computer and Technology, Computers and Internet, Religion, Science and Technology.
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I would like to change gears tonight. A debate is raging across the ecumenical landscape of America today. It has to do with the appropriateness of Social Media as a witness tool. The old-line traditionalist says “Twitter is of the Devil and has no place in church work. Anyone who uses it is doomed to spend eternity tweeting weather conditions from the pit of Archon.” On the other hand, the post-modern wire-head believes that Facebook is the only way to contact the lost and that most likely Jesus would have had a better reception for his Sermon on the Mount if James and John had run a live commentary podcast while it was being delivered. Who is right???
The Bible tells us that salvation comes by grace through faith but begs the question…
“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14)
Without a contact of some kind there is small chance that someone would believe. Cognitive thought is based upon the framework of language. One may be emotionally lifted by a moving melody, or inspired by a beautiful landscape but in order to believe, we must have a template to hang our faith on. I would go so far as to say that without some frame of reference to hang the abstract construct of belief on, there could be no belief. Language provides the framework.

Christians have been using Social Media for many years and likely most did not realize it. Have you ever handed out a tract? A short presentation of the Gospel in some format that people can read and understand. How is this different from a Facebook post or tweet or blog entry? The only difference I can see is that a paper tract reaches only a few people at a time and most likely ends up taking up space in a landfill. A Facebook post or blog entry may reach thousands if it is shared and it requires no effort at all to create. Social Media does indeed have a place in evangelism.

However, and you knew there was a however, right…The impersonal nature of social media and its isolating factor can be a huge hindrance to the work of the Lord. We post spiritual missives and trite platitudes and never consider the human condition of our audience. Part of the power of the message we preach comes from relating our own personal experience. That’s why they call it witnessing. We are telling others what happened to us, what we saw or felt or experienced. This is the most powerful message we can bring. It is hard to be truly passionate about something second-hand. Social Media can take away the personal touch and passion that helps others know that what they are hearing is the truth. When we believe others can hear it in our voice and see it in our eyes. It gives the message credibility.

In short we must reach a balance when dealing with Social Media as a witness tool. It can spread the Gospel to many people at a time and it can inspire and uplift but it can never project the sincerity of a believer sharing his experience with the Lord. Every tool in a toolbox has a task. We must make sure we are using the right tool for the job and we should not judge others on their choice of tools. We are known by our fruit. The Lord’s word will never return void or empty. A word spoken for the defense of the faith is never wasted but neither should we cut ourselves off from the world. Jesus was the friend of publicans and sinners. His message was always delivered in person. We can’t afford to let that aspect of ministry slip or we will be less than what we could be.

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