The last time I read my Bible there wasn’t anything mentioned about social media.
No one was live blogging the Sermon on the Mount. The disciples weren’t able to send a Facebook invite to everyone: “Join us on the hillside overlooking the Sea of Galilee to hear Jesus teach.” (If they had, they could have reminded people to pack a sack lunch. They wouldn’t have had to scavenge around for 5 loaves and 2 fishes.) There was no #JesusisAlive hashtag trending on Easter Sunday. And none of the female followers of Christ were pinning their favorite verses artistically expressed on Pinterest. No. There was none of that. For that reason, many church leaders and churches exempt themselves from engaging in social media. Or they at least think that it has little relevancy when it comes to ministry or what happens in a church on Sunday morning.
The truth is, while there may be no clear commands to “go into all the Twittersphere and tweet the Gospel,” we are called to spread the message of the Gospel to everyone and to use whatever means possible to do so. For Christ-followers and church leaders in the 21st century, that means leveraging the opportunity we have to extend what happens on Sunday mornings into all the world through social media.
The early church we read about in the book of Acts grew exponentially as the message of Jesus spread. While they lacked our modern-day conveniences, we do share something in common: a story worth sharing. Our faith, from its beginning, was a viral faith.
Now, look at our world today. Think about the last movie you saw, the last album you downloaded, the last book you read, or the restaurant you checked out last weekend. Chances are the decisions you made about those were deeply influenced by the recommendations of your friends. Today, social networks largely determine what we decide to do. We listen to the people we connect with and whose opinions we value.
Let’s play this out in the context of your church. Say someone comes to your church this Sunday and is moved by something that is preached or by a creative element that is produced by your arts team. If your church makes that content, sermon, or arts piece available and shareable online, they can post it on their Facebook timeline or share it on Twitter. Now, all of their friends or anyone that follows them – many of whom may have never set foot in your church or never even knew it existed – will now be exposed to something that moved their friend.
Through social media, your church can reach people it may have never reached before. It enables people in your church to share what’s happening in your church with their friends.
Social media is more than broadcasting information or sharing pithy quotes. It’s about a new way of engaging. It’s about sharing. It’s about listening. It’s about inviting people to participate in an ongoing conversation. It’s a way of translating what’s happening in your church or even in your own life.
So do you and your church need social media? Absolutely.
The Church has never been more resourced or equipped than we are today to spread the Good News. I believe with that opportunity comes a tremendous responsibility: We must steward what God has blessed us with through mediums like social media.
Viral: How Social Media is Poised to Ignite Revival
by Leonard Sweet