Considerations for sharing content
First, when we begin sharing content we must think about how to glorify God because I believe modeling Trinitarian ethics begins with doing all things to glorify God. Recognizing the motivation and having principles that guide types of content you post is important because then we can be the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world” that “shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:13-16).
What is your motivation for sharing content? As a ministry leader, when I post an update on my Facebook profile and the student ministry page I am involved with I consider three things: 1) Does this glorify God? 2) Is this edifying to my viewers? 3) How can I use my words to encourage and engage others in a godly way? I am motivated by love for God and others, and my desire for meaningful relationships that point to Christ. Pastor Tim Keller, in his book King’s Cross, explained the relationship of the Trinity through Jesus’ baptism in Mark 1 and wrote, “Mark is giving us a glimpse into the very heart of reality, the meaning of life, the essence of the universe. According to the Bible, the Father, the Son, and the Spirit glorify one another.”
As we participate in life with the Trinity, we must be about their mission, vision, and values. The Son and Spirit’s co-mission is to draw all humanity into a reconciled relationship, freed from the bonds of sin and the devil, in order to live the abundant life that God promises us (Jn. 10:10).
Practically, this means we must balance posting encouraging content on social networks to be salt and light, and doing advertisements to show potential attenders when, where, and what your church offers in the form of services and ministry. Advertising is not evil or unbiblical, it is the motivation of the heart behind the advertisement campaign. As I stated earlier, there is a tendency in our consumer culture to have a product that is offered based off of attraction and convenience. Do the people in your church believe the ministry that is done is for their consumption? Maintaining a healthy balance when sharing on social media requires us to be wise with the words, images, and phrases we use. “Unfortunately, the Information Age does little to encourage the development of wisdom. This requires time, experience, contemplation, patience, suffering, and even stillness to obtain” (Hipps).
Since social networking feeds change so instantaneously there is little time to process, but we must do this in order to cultivate unity and point praise to God. Unity is challenged by compartmentalization, and praise is stifled by pride.
Compartmentalization and pride
The compartmentalization and packaging of ministry as a spiritual good, and even Jesus himself, is the biggest mistake because it causes exclusion across generational, cultural, and socio-economic boundaries and builds a community of common virtue versus a community of uncommon grace. A community of virtues is founded on successfully keeping moral principles, improving numbers and productivity regularly, and enforcing boundaries, whereas, a community of grace cultivates Trinitarian ethics by relying and focusing on the Holy Spirit to guide the heart and actions of a Christ-follower, the holistic wellness of each person, and breaking boundaries to reach to the margins of society. “The values of a technological society are achievement oriented. Grace is the fruit of personal and relational alignment with Jesus Christ. It has nothing to do with what we do or do not achieve” (Jarrell).
My interactions with people on social networks are done intentionally, with the purpose of meeting and sharing life together outside of the virtual world. This helps me to be able to disciple high school students and model what it looks like to live in a community of grace. A community of virtue can be formed by any corporation or non-profit group, but a community of grace can only be formed by a group of people who are transformed by the Spirit, washed by the Word, and worshipping the Father in spirit and truth.
Pride relates with the second issue of engaging culture and theology via social media when it is used for personal benefit or purposes of exclusion. In our engagement of an ethical model to follow, we must continually check our motives and make sure they are in line with the heart of God for people and avoid boasting in anything other than the Lord (1 Cor. 1:31). Deflecting praise can be done in a God-honoring way that doesn’t sound cliché or self-demeaning. For example, when people comment about how good a service is, it can be helpful to point out the contribution of other’s gifts and the truths of God’s word to give validation to the commenter, honoring the involvement of others, and publicly reminding your virtual audience of the truth from the message of God’s word. It is more important for the truth from God’s word to be remembered and applied, than for any particular pastor’s catchy teaching style to be the focal point of praise and remembrance.
Keller, Timothy. King’s Cross: the story of the world in the life of Jesus. New York. Penguin. 2011. 6.
Hipps, Shane. Flickering Pixels: how technology shapes your faith. Grand Rapids. Zondervan. 2009. 71-72.
Jarrell, Dan H. Beyond Technology: Albert Borgmann’s “Device Paradigm” and its implications for American Evangelical Churches. Diss. Western Seminary, 2012. Portland, OR. 113.