Social media is a complete waste of a person’s time. Like a pointless videogame that does nothing other than disintegrate brain cells, spending time on social sites like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, Instagram, and so many others is a bad thing. OR ARE THEY? This is a common opinion by many intelligent people, but perhaps it is simply because they do not recognize the tool that these platforms can be.
As a Christian, a large part of my worldview has to do with pointing others to Jesus Christ as a personal Lord and Savior. Sure, I spend more hours than I care to post “working.” I have also come to the conclusion that spending time on social platforms is of great importance. Like most, there have been times that I have found myself lost in virtual space browsing through all the pointless posts, funny videos, or other blog posts. I can share example after example where social media has taken up too much of my time simply because I failed to be intentional on it.
A great example of this notion is email. There was a time when I felt the need to read all the emails that came in. Now, I have gotten to a place where I can identify the emails that are simply a waste of time and those that are pertinent. I use email as a tool that happens to consume some time to use. It’s a matter of who is sitting in the driver seat: Me or the email platform – or in the case of this blog: Me or the social media platform.
Disregarding social media as a waste of time might be a horrible mistake for a believer. As a pastor at Abundant Life, we are always looking for ways to engage our congregation. We want to foster community among believers as best we can. We do this through small group settings, discipleship opportunities like Sunday School and Wednesday night Bible study, and family picnics. A common thing that we are often told is that people attend church hoping to build relationships with others as well as their own personal walk with the Lord.
The American Sociological Association has identified through great documentation that there is a strong association between people actively living religious lives and a higher satisfaction in life overall. One of the primary reasons they have identified is the relationships that are built among other believers with similar world views.
A recent survey I administered had nearly 200 respondents all claiming to be Christians of one flavor or another. 92% of those individuals indicated they use social media every single day and 81% said they use social media multiple times every day. Similarly, a survey of the young people at Abundant Life showed that 99% of the students are on social media and 51% said that they are constantly connected. Further, 79% of the young people and 89% of the adults indicated that one of their primary reasons for being on social media is to connect with friends.
If we are to build our community of believers in the Church, then utilizing social media as a tool to do so is more than just a wise choice – it is a responsible thing to do. So the next time you are on Facebook or Twitter, browsing through Instagram or just wondering what the newest platform out there is, consider being intentional to connect with others for the purpose of deepening the community of believers – even if it is digitally.