The Blessing and Pitfalls of Social Networking

Keeping a Good Testimony with Your Friends and Followers

As a pastor, it is my joy to help people in their daily walks with God. In recent years it has come to my attention that technology and social networking is a growing part of people’s everyday lives. While I am not an expert on these subjects, I obviously have a blog, and I am even trying to understand the value of Twitter and other such technologies.

Every day more and more people are becoming connected through technology. According to the book Killing Cockroaches by Tony Morgan, there are 175,000 blogs a day added to the Internet. Facebook has just added its 150 millionth member, and has signed up 374,000 people each day since August of 2008, according to Slate magazine.

With that in mind, allow me to share some thoughts with you that I recently shared with some of my fellow laborers here at Lancaster Baptist Church and West Coast Baptist College.

I. Potential Blessings of Social Networking

A. Witnessing
Mark 16:15
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

B. Teaching Biblical Principles
2 Timothy 2:2
And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

C. Communicating with Friends and Co-laborers

D. Encouraging Others
Ephesians 4:29
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

E. Receiving Prayer Updates
This is one of the most valuable aspects that I have seen with Twitter so far.

F. Sharing Events with Relatives across the Country and around the World

G. Learning How God Is Blessing in Other Places
It is a blessing to see how God is working in so many different ministries. I want to rejoice with other Christians when they see a spiritual victory.

The Blessings and Pitfalls of Social NetworkingII. Potential Burdens and Pitfalls of Social Networking

A. The Scheduling Burden—Finding Time to Get It All Done
This is especially true for a pastor who prepares three or four new messages each week and for Christians who are staying busy in personal work and ministry.

B. Focus on Self
People who are heavily involved in social networking are often preoccupied with what they are going to say about themselves online.

There is a danger that narcissistic tendencies are elevated in the life of a person who feels compelled to tell others about themselves continually.

Mark 8:34
And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.

Another longtime friend tells me he has 3,200 Facebook friends: ‘I know maybe 50 of them.’ Facebook is a place that turns adults into teenage girls. ‘Instead of making things,’ he says, ‘We’re telling people how great Gossip Girl is. Would your grandfather go on Facebook? Probably not. I think we’ve become a country thirsting for attention. Facebook is basically Googling yourself for people who don’t have enough hits to warrant it.’ It’s all pointless.—The Weekly Standard, March 2009

C. Concern about Your “Larger Audience” as Opposed to the “Audience of One”
Scripture tells us that in all things we are to please Christ, but there is a growing tendency to be concerned about “followers” more than there is concern about following Him.

D. Time Wasting
Ephesians 5:16
Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

E. Communication Interruptions
I have seen parents—who have been extremely upset with their children for texting—act just as obsessive with Twitter and Facebook.

F. Bragging
Bloggers and twitterers need to be careful about feeling pressure to act as though their families and personal lives are perfect.

1 Peter 5:5
…be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

G. Materialism
Many bloggers and twitterers focus on name brands and personal experiences to elevate materialism over stewardship.

H. Pressure to Sound Like an Expert
It seems like everyone on the Internet is accepted as an expert. I think we may be shocked if we saw the personal, family, and ministry lives of those we follow on the Internet.

A good friend of mine, Dr. Curtis Hutson, once wrote a book entitled Some Things I’ve Learned.  Most of us are trying to learn how to better our lives and ministries, but we are not necessarily experts.

I. Lack of Christ-centered Discussion
Colossians 1:18
And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

All things includes web things.

J. The Permanency of Remarks on the Internet

K. Gossip
3 John 11
Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.

THINK before Communicating
Is it True?
Is it Helpful
Is it Inspiring
Is it Necessary
Is it Kind

1 Thessalonians 5:15
See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.

L. Potential for Improper Male/Female Relationships
“They then have access to each other’s web pages, and consequently to each other’s lives, quirks, photos, jottings, oversharings, and mental disorders, as well as to those ever-expanding universe of their friend’s circles, thus increasing the likelihood that you will either embarrass yourself or be embarrassed by someone whose life would never otherwise intersect with yours.”—The Weekly Standard, March 2009

M. Following the Wrong Crowd
I wonder if some twitterers would want to be listed as a “follower” of the people they are currently following. Biblical principles concerning those who influence us are still relevant to the Internet.

Psalm 1:1
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.

Amos 3:3
Can two walk together, except they be agreed?

N. Virtual Philosophy Becomes Virtual Reality
Young men play computer games such as Grand Theft Auto, and the results are the increase of violence in our society. Adults who follow wrong influences on the Internet will find Internet associations to be just as influential in their lives.

Proverbs 23:7
For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee.

Spiritual AdmonitionsIII. Spiritual Admonitions Regarding Social Networking

A. Blog and Twitter Humbly

B. Deflect Praise to God
1 Corinthians 10:31
Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.

C. Don’t Let Your Virtual Ministry Replace Your People Ministry

  • At Church
  • At Home

D. Don’t Let Your Virtual Ministry Replace Your Local Church Ministry
Hebrews 10:25
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

E. Beware of the “Marketing of Self”
Proverbs 27:2
Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.

F. Avoid Every Appearance of Evil
1 Thessalonians 5:22
Abstain from all appearance of evil.

G. Beware Lest the Web become a Stronghold in Your Life
I am sure more could be said on this subject and, no doubt, more will need to be said as the Internet continues to become a greater part of our lives.

May we endeavor to walk in the Spirit and apply biblical principles as we use technology to glorify Him.

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