Would Jesus use Facebook?
I don’t think I’ll be selling “WJUF” bracelets anytime soon, but that’s a valid question. In an age when everything is lightning-fast and millions of people use social networking sites, what is the church called to do? How can individual churches reach people in the “Facebook generation”?
At age 5, I played youth soccer. My team didn’t exactly understand the idea of working together. A clump of over-enthusiastic kindergartners surrounded the ball, every kid for himself. As we grew older, however, the clump began to spread out. We realized the importance of our relationship as a team.
My generation doesn’t simply want fast information; we want to respond to it.
Speaking as a college student, my generation strives to work as a team. We value relationships with other people. We look for fast and efficient connections. But we don’t stop there: we use our relationships and connections to collaborate and share ideas.
I know firsthand how engrossing social networking is—just ask me how I spend most of my time on the night before a final exam. Most of my generation can relate. In our world the Internet has not simply existed but has been a way of life. We’ve learned with it, worked with it, and socialized with it.
Social networking sites build and sustain relationships among people. Through sites such as Facebook or Twitter, I can talk just as easily with my cousin in Alaska as with my friend across campus. I can check out my friends’ pictures from the weekend, read my local news, catch up on a TV show, or see if the Detroit Lions are winning . . . or losing. The question begs to be asked: shouldn’t I be able to catch up on my church’s ministry too?
It’s no secret that churches have a difficult time connecting with people in my generation. In a world in which young adults look for instant connections and information, the church is being left behind. E-mail addresses, once considered “cool” for churches, are now standard—as are websites. Yet checking a church website for updates is often inconvenient and time-consuming. If our churches want to connect with young adults, it’s time for them to embrace the potential of social networking.
Social networking isn’t only for young people: 50- to 64-year-olds are the fastest-growing age group on Facebook. Social networking appeals to young adults, but it can connect people of any age.
The beauty of social networking is not only its speed or functionality, but that it’s two-way communication. My generation doesn’t simply want fast information; we want to respond to it. We want to engage it. Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try, you can’t have two-way communication with a bulletin announcement.
Social networking holds untapped potential for members to share prayer requests, photos, small group information, and events. Not only can churches deliver this information, but members also can respond to it—and then respond to each other.
Yes, as some people point out, social networking can foster relationships that are insincere or superficial. But we must recognize that relationships, like all of society, are fallen. In this world we should not dismiss a concept because it isn’t perfect; we should engage the medium and strive to use it for God’s kingdom.
Social networking opens doors of communication for the church to explore. Jesus calls us to be of one body, and social networking promotes that kind of unity and constant communication.
In order to unite with my relational generation, social networking is an imperative first step. If Jesus used Facebook, would he “like” your church?
Enjoyed this article?
Don’t miss this week’s must-read articles:
- Tell A Better Story
- ‘Rebirth’ for a Wisconsin Church
- Book review: A Church Called Tov, by Laura Barringer and Scot McKnight