The third, and most difficult consideration for using social media is to challenge people within the evangelical sub-culture to follow Jesus, the suffering servant. The irony in this statement is that everyone follows someone via social networks. Our problem is that this creates a culture of Christian celebrities and fandom instead of saints and faithful Gospel-living. Consider these words from Pastor Kyle Idleman, “I think Jesus has a lot of fans these days. Fans who cheer for him when things are going well, but who walk away when it’s a difficult season. Fans who sit safely in the stands cheering, but they know nothing of the sacrifice and pain of the field. Fans of Jesus who know all about him, but they don’t know him.”
A Trinitarian ethical model is incarnational, whereby I pour myself out in love and compassion in relationship for the good of others at the expense of my own interests and upward mobility. This is a challenge to our consumer culture in the church that does not always do a good job at evaluating technology such as social networking through a theological lens, but in the realm of pragmatism for reaching our desired goals with a desired audience. What this requires for the American church is a lifestyle change and re-orientation around the fact that Jesus said the greatest commandments are to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself.
“Perhaps the more culture moves toward discarnation, the more important it is to emphasize and strengthen the incarnate aspects of the church’s life and witness” (Kim).
In order to change the consumer paradigm and experience a lifestyle change that is incarnational, compassionate, and loving we must begin with repentance, be discipled by others who have been formed and are imitating a Trinitarian ethos, and act within the model of ethics I have represented. In regards to sharing, engaging, and challenging through social networking this means that we must use wisdom in our interactions, pray for the people we have interactions with, and be willing to put down our smart phones, tablets, and computers and slow down in the daily rush to notice others and impart God’s grace in a meaningful and personal way. In light of this project I have been challenged in my ministry to teenagers to speak more candidly against using derogatory language on social media, to post more Scripture on my own personal sites, and to be a better listener. All of these actions have been done for the benefit of my own personal relationship with God, and to disciple high schoolers that God has given me influence to speak truth into their lives.
Idleman, Kyle. Not a fan: becoming a completely committed follower of Jesus. Grand Rapids. Zondervan. 2011. 25.
Matthew 22:35-41. Holy Bible (NIV). 1984.
Kim, Joseph A. “The Myth of the Electronic Church: Evangelical appropriations of the technological sublime.” Cultural Encounters- A Journal for the Theology of Culture. Volume 8. Number 1 (2012): 69-82. Print.