So You Want to be a Christian on the Internet? 5 Ways to Do it Wrong!

So if you’ve been under a rock over the past decade let me fill you in:  the internet in general and social media in particular are HUGE.  In his book in the BARNA FRAMES series, David Kinneman writes,

“Around the world in the next twenty-four hours, humans will text 188 billion times, send 144 billion emails, Google 4.7 billion times, download 30 million apps, Skype for 2 billion minutes, write 2.1 million blog posts, and tweet over 400 million times.” Hyperlinked Life, pg. 30. 

With the advent of social media, we are interconnected in incredible ways.  We can access more information, more people, and connect in more ways than ever before.  That’s awesome!  The church has been praying for this kind of thing for over 2,000 years!  So it’s here…and…Christians use it to share the Gospel, and that’s great news!  However, there’s a bad side:  Christians are using it. I want to give you 5 things to avoid as you use the internet to help people connect with the God of the Universe.

1)  Don’t be a troll. This is internet lingo for “jerk.”  Don’t troll comment sections and threads and be a jerk. No one who is looking for the next greatest take on baking green bean casserole is interested when you post John 3:16 in the comments section.  Seriously, I appreciate your zeal, but find somewhere relevant to post that. Also, if you have friends on Facebook who don’t share your beliefs and post about it often…just walk away.  Stop posting passages from Leviticus on the gay guy’s page. Seriously.  Stop. You’re setting the church back to a time before cable…called the Dark Ages.

2)  Don’t be part of the Grammar Police This kind of goes along with number one, but it needs mentioned.  No one cares that you can spell things better.  it just makes you look like a jerk when you correct people.  It makes you seem “holier than thou” and all that King James kind of stuff.  We get it – spelling and punctuation matter to you…but resist the urge to pounce upon the opportunity to correct someones’ use of “they’re” when they should have used “their.”  Seriously.  Make like Elsa and “Let it go…”

3)  Think before hitting “Like,” “Share,” or “Post.” I’ve had tough conversations with ministry leaders, church members, and others on this.  One minute your posts are cussing someone or something out or you’re pontificating about the next great political cause that we should care about or oppose…the next update you’re quoting Scripture.  Or you’re a leader in the church and you post questionable things a lot.  The world would be a better place and life would be a lot less harder for the rest of us trying to live lives of integrity if you just did one of two things: 1) thought before you posted something or 2) disassociate yourself, your profile, your accounts, and any web-presence you have from Jesus and the church. Is what you’re about to share with the world (that will be online FOREVER) really something that helps reflect the message of reconciliation Jesus gave his church?  If not, don’t do it.

4) Don’t Speak Christianese I love sharing my faith through tweets and status updates. However, I’ve noticed I’m guilty of speaking Christianese. Maybe my tweet will say, “Oh how I wish the world could know the depths of love that the penal substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ accomplished by being my propitiation to sanctify me with the washing of immersion baptism by the fulfillment of the Old Covenant upon which our ancient fathers stood like bulwarks through the eons until the manifold wisdom of God was revealed unto the world.”  I probably lost you at “penal.” It’s cool to know all the big words of Scripture and you should, but understand that the average person with a laptop probably doesn’t know words or phrases like, “eschatology, transubstantiation, rapture, potluck, Eucharist, missional, emergent, etc.” You know how I could have said all that in plain English?  Thank you Jesus!

5)  Don’t Start Arguments We have the greatest technology possible with access to the tomes knowledge and wisdom of all human civilizations…and we use it to post pictures of cats and start arguments.  Trust me when I say no one’s mind has ever been changed or accepted Jesus because of a status update I made on gay marriage, abortion, the Noah movie, or Sodom and Gomorrah.  The world has never been changed by “liking” a status or “favoriting” a tweet…but I digress. Instead, use your words to speak life.  Try typing something encouraging.  Let your words speak life and build up rather than tear down and kill.  Words are powerful.  Use them.  However, be very careful with them.

This isn’t a comprehensive list by any means, but it’s things I’ve done and experiences.  What else would you add?

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