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And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’
~Matthew 4:19, NRSV
The Word of God equips and empowers us to change the world. Whether we know it or not, we are ready to spread the message of God’s love and Christ’s salvation throughout the world. And it’s easier than ever before!
Social media gives us the opportunity to connect with people we never dreamed of. Old schoolmates, extended family members, new colleagues, people from around the world … the list goes on and on.
But what’s the point in making the connection if there’s no community building that happens once you’ve clicked the button?
It’s not connection that we are all seeking. It’s community.
As I read this chapter, I began to see how Jesus is the perfect example of a community-builder. He spent the majority of his ministry building community with people he came into contact with on a daily basis. When we look to Jesus as our model for building true community – with believers and non-believers alike – community can be summarized using 4 A’s: awareness, authenticity, adaptation, and action.
We can’t spread the Good News through community without first being aware of who we are and, perhaps more importantly, whose we are. In the fast-paced world we live in, we have to take time to live and breathe in God’s Word. We have to become aware of the words on the page, become aware of how they change our lives, and stay aware of God’s presence in our day-to-day lives. Without this awareness, we have nothing to share!
Perhaps the one thing that stands out to me most about Jesus’s ministry is his authenticity. You see what you get with Jesus. He didn’t hide behind a false identity. He never pretended to be someone he wasn’t. He was real with people. Spoken with nothing but truth and love, he said what was on his mind.
One of the most difficult things about building online community is this authenticity piece. Buried behind computer screens, iPads, smartphones, and more, we have the ability to be true to ourselves or pretend to be something we’re not. Jesus calls us to the former. It’s not always easy – sometimes we share a message that people don’t want to hear. A message of peace, justice and equality. But Jesus promises he will be right beside us when the world doesn’t like what we have to say. When we remain aware of our identity in Christ, authenticity becomes second-nature!
The core message doesn’t change … but the way in which we speak it does. The Word of God connects with people in the here and now. It’s alive and well. We are all part of the Story. But in order to know how to share the Word so that it connects with others, we must know what’s going on in their lives. We have to be able to connect the Bible stories with the lives they are living. Instead of making them feel like outsiders, we are called to meet them where they are. Share life with them first. Then share the Good News.
Using social media to share the Gospel means we have to reach out to people we are connected to. It might mean shortening our friends list so we can truly connect with fewer people. Or perhaps it means less surface-level connection and more intentional caring for one another through social media. Regardless, we can’t sit back and let social media happen to us. We are called to use the tools that we have been given for the glory of God. What an awesome gift we’ve been given!
Questions to Consider:
- Where have you found community through social media?
- How can you change your social networking to make it more about God and less about you?