I grew up in a couple pretty conservative churches where it was common to look for “scriptural authority” to do new things. It wasn’t a challenge, it was just their way of testing new ideas to make sure they weren’t going astray.
Consequently, I’ve been asked multiple times “Would Jesus use social media?” It’s both a fair and honest question. We are encouraging churches to jump on Facebook and Twitter and who knows what else — is this really someplace the church needs to be? Aren’t there risks and dangers?
My answer is always the same: I don’t know if Jesus would use social media or not. He was a very unique individual, and I’ve always found him hard to predict. But here is one thing I am sure of — the Apostle Paul would be on every social media platform out there!
Think about Paul’s philosophy — “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” I Cor 9:22 (NIV)
Paul utilized the latest technology available in his day. He wrote letters to whole congregations of people who couldn’t read. He traveled literally to the ends of the known world in a time when people rarely traveled more than a few miles from their homes. Paul went every place there was a large gathering of people to spread the gospel. Today over half of American adults are on Facebook, can you imagine Paul NOT jumping into that?
If Paul were here today, I imagine him to have a smart phone, iPad and laptop with him everywhere he went. I imagine he would have 5,000 Facebook friends and would know them all. He would be on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Youtube, Instagram, Google+, and probably have one of the few up-to-date MySpace accounts. He would be anywhere the crowds were, trying to influence people and preach the Gospel.
Is there trash on social media? Certainly. Are there dangers and risks to navigate? Yes. But, that’s where the people are. The church can’t reach people if the people can’t see them.
Don’t be afraid to take your church into social media. I’m certain Paul would already be there if he had the chance.
Terrell is president of Main Street Enterprises, a web development and consulting firm that specializes in church communications. He is also founder of MinistryCOM.org, a free resource site for church communications professionals. He can be reached at tsanders@MainStreetOpen.com.