Passionate about Jesus but not on Facebook

In my various lines of work I’ve often heard talk about the problems caused by Facebook. Some are quick to denounce it. Mostly this is by people who aren’t on Facebook, or who are older... or both. Now as I write this, I’m conscious that a number of people won’t agree with me. If it’s you I’d like you to be patient and hear me out. I have spent a good deal of time understanding how Facebook actually works. I’m generally cautious and conservative when it comes to recommending it to people. I also like to be frank, and there are many pitfalls and downsides to using it... poorly.

My purpose here is to outline why I think it should play a major role in the life of a Christian who seeks to evangelise others, or more specifically is passionate about evangelism. Now if you’re new here or perhaps don’t speak Christianese I should define what  mean by “evangelism”. It’s a Christian jargon word for talking to people about Jesus. My central thesis is this, if you’re interested in evangelism (telling people about Jesus), then you’re interested in people. If you’re interested in people you’ll use (or consider using) Facebook and other forms of social media to do this. It would be a mistake to think that I want people on mass to sign up blindly. Honestly there are enough thoughtless Facebookers and idiot trolls out there already. I’m arguing for using Facebook thoughtfully and intentionally.

Firstly I use Facebook because it’s practical. It allows me to keep track of large numbers of friends, connections that I have all over the world. As an early adopter of technology I have always sort to utilise things that enrich and extend my relationships both online and face to face. Practically speaking, it’s a case of using technology to help in task of relationships and relationship building... the context in which a Christian seeks to speak about what they believe.

Secondly it helps me to lead a life of love. Facebook means I know if one of my friends suffers loss or pain. I can send them a message of support whether publicly or privately. Sure more traditional forms of communication can still do this... but really when was the last time you hand wrote a letter to someone... about anything? With social media I can upscale my love. I can show my friends I care about them even the small things. I can celebrate great triumphs in the good times... and relate with empathy and compassion in the bad. The potential to live a life of love on Facebook is almost boundless.

Thirdly it allows me to my live life alongside other people authentically. My friends know about my successes, failures, embarrassments and struggles. While this takes boldness, perhaps even courage, it gives authenticity to relationships and to a Christians identity. Too often I think we censor our lives online to the detriment of authenticity. Christians are no different to unbelievers. We have messy lives, we don’t always have all the answers, we stuff up. Christians must be better at modelling a warts and all life where Jesus’ loves me and forgives me. Sure all posts have some form of self censorship imposed on them. There are lots of things I don’t post about. There is a tension between honesty and defamation, being interesting and thought provoking, being whingy and annoying. As I said before, it’s a mistake of authenticity when we censor all our failures and mistakes from others.

In conclusion if you’re not a Facebook person that’s fine. If you haven’t found what I’ve written here persuasive, feel free to walk away. Better to have thought about the issue and walked away, than to do it badly, or be someone who rants aimlessly against something they don’t understand. If I have persuaded you, Great! Get involved! For Christians and non believers alike it has the potential to enrich and deepen your relationships. If you already have Facebook perhaps it’s time to put some more thought into how you use it, or could use it more intentionally. Christian or not, let’s face it you already spend a lot of time there.


Scene Change

I went walking down South West Tassie on the weekend. It was a beautiful day, one of the best days I've ever walked on. Pictured is the 1390m Nevada Peak.

I don't own a dedicated digital camera so all my photos are taken with my iPhone 4. The snow and sun made for high contrast photos. Most of the photos I took were pretty rubbish. This one was probably the best one I took.