The story is written by Johnnie Moore who describes himself as an author, pastor, professor and a vice president of Liberty University. He is a board member of World Help and the author of Honestly: Really Living What We Say We Believe. You can keep track of him on Facebook and Twitter.
His article tells the story of how his 1,000 member student congregation could not find a place to meet for their Wednesday worship service since their usual university venues had been reserved by others.
No problem, let’s do church on Facebook.
Why? Because that is where we are anyway was the response. So for some time that is what they have done. The logic goes like this: Facebook is a community, we like being in community. The church is supposed to be a community, we like church too. Let’s do both together!
There are advantages and disadvantages to this approach:
- Facebook is cool, now, virtually ubiquitous.
- Facebook is where 800 million users are anyway.
- It free and easy to use
- It requires no commitment except to show up.
- Virtually anything you can do in church you can do in virtual church on Facebook.
- Facebook is drop in, not sign up so if that is all you are doing is dropping in you could be missing the best part of being in community which requires active participation more than once a week.
- Facebook is one size fits all which may work fine if you are doing a structured worship service, but in a multi-generational, multicultural, multi-ethnic, multi-language community you may need more than one ‘flavor’ to satisfy the hungry.
- Facebook could be a good place to pray, to worship together even in the virtual sense, but it may be tougher to satisfy the service to others trilogy of our faith journey unless we actually go out in the vineyard and pull weeds and water the plants.
My point is not to criticize Johnnie Moore and his colleagues at Liberty University but to thank them for giving us ideas we can try ourselves. But I’m waiting for Johnnie’s next article that tells me how he used Facebook to arrange his social service ministry program of gathering food for the food bank; or that Habitat for Humanity project, or the flash mob trash pickup project that ends up meeting for dinner at a neighborhood hang-out.
My point is that community is about more than showing up—-but given the church decline reality we face—showing up is REALLY GOOD NEWS! Being in community is about giving of ourselves to serve others and in doing so finding Jesus in our lives and enriching our personal faith journey.
I believe the Episcopal Diocese of California needs a presence on Facebook—but we need more than that—we need a social network of our own that connects our congregations, connects our mission and ministry programs, connects our people in ways that unite us, empower us, celebrate our community connections so we feel like family—-the Body of Christ.
We need a social network that make it easy for us to show up, easy to participate, easy to be part of important events across our faith community—but we need more.
- We need to learn about the call for volunteers to tutor ten kids in math, science and English in our neighborhood this semester sponsored by another denomination with whom we have chosen to share our social network.
- We need to discover that we can help 80 year old Mrs Jones down the street get to her doctor’s appointment she otherwise would miss because someone thoughtful in our neighborhood posted the HELP WANTED request on our neighborhood page.
- We need to hear the call for help from Monument Crisis Center when their food pantry is running low and there are many hungry to feed and by TXTing YES to the number listed we can instantly give $10 to allow the Center to go shopping to meet the need.
Do you see what I mean about the power of doing more than showing up? A true social network unites us as a family and helps us truly be the Body of Christ by praying, worshiping, serving and loving each other as Jesus loved us. It is like our neighborhood call list on steroids. It not only allows us to drop into the conversation around our ‘community kitchen table’ but to be fed by the Holy Spirit by responding to the needs of others as we are able, when we are able, as often as we are able. That is more than showing up!
Our social network is more than a party line, it is more than a Facebook place to hangout—it is our place to get involved, to help others, to discover Jesus in our lives and drink deeply from all the blessings our community presents to us each day to learn, to pray, to discover, to support others in their time of need.
Our social network empowers EACH OF US acting on our own to BE THE BODY OF CHRIST in ways we might not otherwise every hear about. But our social network does something else—something more powerful and satisfying—it builds community, makes us feel like family, like we belong and it feeds our soul and brings us back to the Table eager for renewal, thankful for the blessings in our lives, joyous that through service to others we have found true peace.
Be in community!
- Calling All Church Geeks (churchgrowthprogram.com)
- Liberty University Launches “Liberty Journal Radio” (prweb.com)
- CHURCH2GO: Connecting the Body of Christ in an Episcopal Social Network (discernablefutures.wordpress.com)
- MIC Assembly Network Monthly Vision Reminder (reasondisciple.wordpress.com)
- Liberty University’s ‘Your 24′ Video Competition Strengthens the Institution’s Online Community (prweb.com)
- Facebook’s busiest page: daily dose of digital Jesus (seattletimes.nwsource.com)