Without any risk of exaggeration, it is safe to say that social media is everywhere.
Every business, shop, enterprise, teenager, grandparent and adult seems to be involved (if not obsessed) with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat, just to name a few.
So why on earth should the Church or its congregation be bothered with something that has so regularly become problematic, fashionable and prevalent?
What Would Jesus Do?
16…“A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. 17 When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to tell the guests, ‘Come, the banquet is ready.’ 18 But they all began making excuses. One said, ‘I have just bought a field and must inspect it. Please excuse me.’ 19 Another said, ‘I have just bought five pairs of oxen, and I want to try them out. Please excuse me.’ 20 Another said, ‘I now have a wife, so I can’t come.’ 21 “The servant returned and told his master what they had said. His master was furious and said, ‘Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ 22 After the servant had done this, he reported, ‘There is still room for more.’ 23 So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full. 24 For none of those I first invited will get even the smallest taste of my banquet.’”
There may not be people congregating in the country lanes and behind hedges. You may not even have many people who are homeless in your town. You may live in an urban centre where there are homeless people right outside your door, sleeping in the doorway of your apartment building.
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. – Jesus
Jesus wasn’t just talking about people who didn’t have a physical home. Yes, we should be helping those who are in need of food and shelter. But Jesus was also talking about those who are without a spiritual home and in need of spiritual food. He is inviting people everywhere to come to his Banquet that they might have “a rich and satisfying life” and drink so that they will never thirst again.
But today, in 2017, there are spiritually homeless people everywhere. And they are well within your reach because the highways and hedges, the places where people are, is social media.
In the UK alone, there are 32 million people on Facebook. More than half of the British population is expected to login to Facebook today. Millions of people sharing their experiences, joining groups and being involved in conversations.
13 million people are using Twitter, many of them every single day. They are sending out brief messages, awaiting replies, and listening to what others are saying.
Now, you could go fishing where there are only one or two fish – because you really don’t need that many fish, do you? Or you could go where the Light needs to be shone.
If you watch how large organisations use Facebook, you can see the greatest engagement is among people who are being asked questions and to share their opinions. Nobody wants to be sold to, but people like to buy, so companies will often ask people what they like, rather than just post advertisements.
People don’t want to be told or shouted at. We want to be listened to! So listen. Ask questions. See how people share.
Can You Be Bothered?
So if you are happy with the state of your church growth, content with the few people you reach on a weekly basis, and think that there are no more dark corners where Light needs to shine, then you can safely ignore social media. It isn’t for you.
On the other hand, if you want to see more lives changed, more people meeting Jesus for the first time, and your local church grow more and influencing your local communities, then you need to open a Facebook account, join Twitter and get involved.
To get a Facebook account and start networking, visit Facebook.com. It’s free and there are lots of ways to keep your account secure. To start sharing with Twitter, visit twitter.com. Again, it’s free and safe. Share what you want to, don’t share what you don’t want to! It’s that easy.
Are you sharing the Gospel regularly on social media? Tell us about your experiences and how you’ve reached out online. We would love to hear your stories!