Thursday, March 8, 2012

Discipleship in a Facebook World (Part IV)


Knock, Knock – Who’s There?

Living in a “virtual” world lends itself to developing a facade of who we really are. In many cases there is no real-person behind the Facebook picture or avatar. If there is someone behind the picture, it is often a caricature of who we want people to think we are. Facebook personalities become two- dimensional. When we become two-dimensional we run the risk of projecting an image of perfection. Living behind such a fa├žade requires no responsibility or accountability for oneself or for anyone else. I was saddened to learn in an article that Facebook has become the preferred place for posting suicide notes.

I agree with one writer I read when he said, “We have to get in touch with reality again.” Living in this electronic and digital age allows us to do almost of our business online. Banking, shopping, medical issues, research, movies, music, mapping, and virtual living can all be done online now. We have limited our interpersonal connections to almost zero. The church seems to be following right along with these two-dimensional social mediums.

For all of the usefulness of Facebook, it is not a substitute for reality. It certainly not a substitute for fellowship. I don’t mean fellowship where we discuss the weather, the lousy Seahawks season, or Grandmother’s gall bladder surgery. Fellowship isn’t where we catch up on the latest gossip and dish the dirt. Fellowship is where we, in a face to face encounter, minister our spiritual gifts to one another in an attempt to comfort, correct, or counsel a fellow brother or sister in Christ.

When we are not sure of who is behind the “status update” we cannot make an environment where corporate repentance, restoration, and re-vitalization take place. Of course Facebook was never intended to do this. Someone said it well when they said there is no spiritual discipline app. We must be part of face to face discipleship encounters to foster a healthy spiritual environment.

After all this is why the body gathers together. Unfortunately most believers do not know why the body gathers, nor are they aware of its importance. As it takes a mother and father (the exceptions prove-not disprove the rule) to successfully raise a child, it takes a gathered and committed body of believers to develop the spiritual wherewithal to “raise” or disciple new believers. The gathered body is not designed to facilitate “hiding” or anonymity.

As much fun as Facebook can be and as useful in other areas as it has been, Facebook is not a substitute for discipleship.  Encouraging quotes, verses rooted out of context, spiritual one-liners might comfort, encourage, and even edify someone momentarily, but Facebook will never replace one on one face to face encounters. It takes three dimensional, risky; often confrontation personal encounters to truly foster the environment in which true biblical discipleship takes place.

Discipleship in a Facebook world is probably an oxymoron. It cannot be done successfully. Facebook is not designed to develop disciples!

3 comments:

welcome to my world of poetry said...

I agree Gregg what you say FaceBook isn't a substitute for the likes of the church.
To be honest FaceBook has so many things going wrong of late I'm thinking of coming off. I requested a few people to be friends, Face book have banned me asking for 7 days because I didn't know the people I was asking.
Surely that's the way to make friends.
I can see that much thought have gone in to your excellent post and as I have said I totally agree.

Yvonne.

pilgrimscottage said...

I couldn't agree with you more, Gregg. How so very important it is to fellowship with other real believers in a physical realm. Even Paul longed to be with those to whom he ministered to, so that his joy would be filled. We need each other in the churches to help each other grow in the Lord.

Petra said...

"but Facebook will never replace one on one face to face encounters. It takes three dimensional, risky; often confrontation personal encounters to truly foster the environment in which true biblical discipleship takes place." Well said, pastor Gregg!