Here are some random collection of things running through my mind, as the sounds of ice scrapers jingle in my head:
Wonder why your friend just turned into Porky the Pig on Facebook?
No, your friend did not finally admit to eating too much this holiday season, but instead changed their profile photo to reflect their favorite cartoon character from their childhood. Why, you may ask? In order to take a stand against child abuse and neglect.
I know what you are thinking, because I am thinking it as well. How does simply changing one’s profile picture take a stand against child abuse and neglect, two things we should all be against in the first place? Does it raise awareness to the issue? Does it promote legislation regarding child abuse and neglect? Does it alert people to where they may go and volunteer to help children who have suffered from abuse?
Sadly, changing a Facebook photo does none of these things. What it does is alert your friends to what your favorite cartoon was as a child. Mine was He-Man and Bugs Bunny, thanks for asking.
But, there is a deeper issue that is at play, and it is also impacting the church. We are more likely to take the easy road to raise awareness of issues than we are to really get dirty and promote and advocate change. In today’s society, we believe clicking “like” on a status is the equivalent to taking a stand on an issue. It is public, yes, but it is not costly. It requires no sacrifice. It requires no effort, other than to move your mouse in the appropriate link and click “like.”
That is not advocacy.
But, this mindset has also impacted the way we reach out to the world as Christians. On a typical day you are likely to find through the pages of Facebook, friends who liked pages that talk of one million Facebook users for Christ, or keeping Christ in Christmas. Evangelism is an important avenue for the Christian faith, but we should never water it down to something that comes off as a prideful attempt to show that “we’re cool, and you’re not.” We have watered down evangelism to where it is no longer about entering into a relationship with the stranger, the poor, the lost, but is about showing that “I’m cool.”
Again, where is the cost to this form of evangelism and outreach? Where is the sacrifice? Where is the love for other in this type of proclamation?
These are the issues that I believe the upcoming generation, my generation, of leaders in the church will have to work through. Facebook and social networking sites are here to stay. They are not going anywhere. So, how do we effectively use these sites to do advocacy and to proclaim the message of Christ?
We have to do better than simply allowing for easy “likes” that are smothered between our proclamations of how much we bought at the store, and our love for various celebrities. We must do better.
My wife graduates from Asbury this week. She came to Asbury after I arrived, and will graduate one semester before I do. No, there is no hint of bitterness in that statement.
I’m proud of her for obtaining her degree (Biblical Studies) and for doing so in such quick work. She is an amazing student, mind, and person. Friday, will be a great day to celebrate all that she has accomplished at Asbury.