A. Allan Martin
Pastor of Younger Generation Church
A perspective on the social networking landscape.
The Bible makes it fairly clear that in order to reach people, you need to go to where the people are. That's all I'm attempting, just making an honest effort to hang out where today's generation is "hanging out." Barna Group president David Kinnaman revived the phrase "Digital Babylon" to describe today's social media landscape. I like to think I'm making efforts to "dare to be a Daniel" in Digital Babylon―trying to be where next generations are.
Social media has really flattened out the structures of society. We have the ability to reach a wide, eclectic, diverse group of people―worldwide. It's not uncommon to follow a celebrity or notable author on Twitter, and likewise the famous can also follow you. In today's culture, and it seems accurate to say, we are reaching each other.
The latest technology methods haven't changed much about humanity. We are social beings, eager for relationships. Whether it is the latest info divulged at a quilting bee or the latest viral video, we all want to share our lives with each other―we all long for significance and purpose. We all want meaningful relationships.
Although speed, genre, technological advances, and languages vary from generation to generation, we still communicate basic human needs. Generally I see today's needs being familiar to every era. The need for love and attention. The need for meaning and direction. The need for answers to life's most fundamental questions. The need for relationships.
There are many ways church members can engage other and encourage each other through social media, but a key principle for any activity in social media is: Be Kind.
As it is an expansive public arena, social media is one of those places where the most basic of Christian courtesy and compassion can be our best expression of our faith. Kindness to others is a great virtue to hold high when interacting online.
Another principle is: Be Discreet. Just because we can express every feeling, thought, opinion, and urge doesn't mean it's wise to do so. No one has given us permission to emotionally vomit online. Further, if there is a conflict, fight, or disagreement, social media is among the worst places to communicate. Following the biblical model in person has proven to be a time-tested exceptional method of reconciliations (see Matthew 18).
This one is important too: Be Civil. Civility is defined as courteous or polite behavior. It's a discipline that can distinguish believers in a media world that thrives on instantaneous, infamous, and often rude acting out. You video man not go viral, but if you're civil, you will be known nevertheless for all the right reasons.
Finally, keep Matthew 5 in mind. Several times a day I post to various groups of people, mostly through Facebook. As I stand on my "purpose firm," I remember these points:
This post originally appeared in the Adventist Review and was posted with the permission of the author.