I personally resigned from all social media usage. I think it's one of the main causes for our fractured society.
This is a common refrain I hear in conversation with ministers and church leaders. And to be honest, I've been a little surprised.
I've been surprised that I have had to make the case for social media as part of a church's communications strategy in my work for Digital Congregations. Perhaps naively, I assumed everyone could see the potential for ministry that I see, the potential for relationship I've experienced.
But I get it. I do. I often take social media sabbaticals and set strong boundaries around my own consumption. I also believe that—for churches and people—our participation in digital media is a highly individualized decision. Everyone's approach will and should be different.
Still, while I am no theologian, I believe the church needs to be where people are. Jesus showed us that.
Jesus traveled, sometimes long distances, to the most deplorable of places to be with people because that's where they were, that's where they needed him to be.
I'm not saying it's a mistake for a church or a minister to not engage on social media, but I think it's worth asking ourselves the question: Whether it's right or wrong, advisable or harmful, billions of people—more than a third of the earth's population—congregate and spend their lives and time in these digital spaces. If churches and ministers are not present there too, how can we serve and minister to them?
Social media can be a deplorable place but I'm not sure that means we shouldn't show up there. In fact, I think that may make it all the more important for churches to bring to the space an abundance of love and grace and welcoming and respite.
Covid has shown us that these digital spaces are more than tools. They are in fact gathering places. If we can learn to live out Matthew 18:20 in this new 21st century way and gather in God's name in this new place, so too will God be with us there.