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Josh has an incredible heart for God and is passionate about helping create environments that lead people to experience God.  He has tremendous gifts that enable him to help churches advance the Kingdom of God.

4 Things The Gospel Teaches Us About Social Media

Written by Josh Collins. Posted in Church, Community

Since 2013 I’ve seen a growth of just over 2000% on Twitter alone. On other social media channels I’ve experienced similar results as well. Having seen these results, I could probably easily jump in the murky waters of digital marketers, attempting to sell you on a 5 step process to achieve the same results.

But as much as this post is about social media, it’s really more about the gospel than social media.

Photo Credit: Kalexanderson via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Kalexanderson via Compfight cc

(By the way, I have no clue what this photo has to do with social media. All I know is it’s awesome and my boys are currently obsessed with Lego Star Wars, so there you go.)

The other day my friend Stephen and I had this little exchange on Twitter:

This little idea got me thinking about Twitter and the people I follow. You see, I maintain a private list of just over 130 people that I follow. I don’t publish this list, but I allow these people to influence me in some way shape or form. While many of them I often do agree with, there is easily about 1/3 of them I don’t.

Tim Keller speaks to this when he says:

“When you listen and read one thinker, you become a clone… two thinkers, you become confused… ten thinkers, you’ll begin developing your own voice… two or three hundred thinkers, you become wise and develop your voice.”

Several times over the course of this past year I’ve intentionally withdrawn from social media seeking a better perspective. Because it’s my first calling to experience the gospel for myself, before attempting to lead others in doing the same, I’ve used that distance to develop a healthier gospel perspective about social media.

Here’s what I’ve learned:

1. Everyone says they are an expert. I’m sure you’ve heard others mention this, but I tend to see this more as everyone wants to be a somebody, wants to be perceived as important, special, significant in some way. It’s what drives the “look at me” frenzy, endless self promoting, platform building culture we have now settled into. The gospel cures this (Matt. 16:25, Matt 20:16). John Piper beautifully communicates a better perspective when he says:

“We weren’t meant to be somebody–we were meant to know Somebody”

2. It’s not about connection as much as people say. Simply put, if this were true, then we’d be the most connected people group of all people groups in the history of people groups. And while we certainly are more connected than ever, rather have more access than ever, paradoxically it’s true we are also a more disconnected culture.

Jon Acuff presents the healthiest perspective here. Social Media is really more about collecting ideas, sharing those ideas, and spreading those ideas. The very best interactions I have on Twitter or Facebook or any other platform have always left me encouraged, and inspired. Not to mention, I’d still rather have an exchange over a warm beverage than an exchange of 140 characters.

3. Social Media creates an unhealthy attachment to identity. Just about everyone I’ve spoken to over the past several years have admitted to struggling with this issue. Because in many ways, social media provides instant gratification, propping up and inflating a false sense of self, it’s easy to allow your identity to be informed by things like number of followers and retweets.

“Our need for worth is so powerful that whatever we base our identity and value on we essentially ‘deify.’ We will look to it with all the passion and intensity of worship and devotion, even if we think ourselves as highly irreligious. ” ― Tim Keller

I’ve learned two things by gaining some distance:

    • I’m just fine without social media. The world keeps on spinning without any complications.
    • I’m confident what I won’t hear when I die are the words, “You didn’t have enough Twitter followers.”

4. The impact of Social Media can never be truly quantified. There are those out there with far more experience than I when speaking to this but as a father, my thoughts turn my family and my kids. Just the other day I had a conversation with Molly, my soon to be 9 yr old, about why she cannot have a Facebook account. I couldn’t believe she brought that up! Teaching them a new decorum for how to communicate and be responsible online is a challenge I never expected.

A line has been crossed for sure, we’ve reached a point of no return. Because of digital accountability, careers are now threatened. I have a feeling that for generations to come, we’ll be dealing with the ramifications of our actions online today.

“One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time.” — John Piper

Experiencing the gospel creates a new filter by which you view the world. Suddenly things that used to matter, appropriately no longer have Kingdom value. And because of this re-prioritization, I’ve found that new freedom, new joy, new mercies, new grace, and new life can be discovered.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love social media. I love interacting and encouraging folks that I meet online. But the pseudo relationships built there will never, nor can they ever, replace your core need for true authentic community.

What does the gospel teach you about social media? What would you add to this list above?

Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you!

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Josh Collins

Josh Collins is a Communicator and Experience Architect who lives in Franklin, Tn. His passion is to create awesome experiences that change the way we engage audiences and help you do the same.
  • Ima_Squidface

    I’m having trouble finishing your post because of this annoying pop-up which covers half my screen inviting me to join. I’ve already joined to the best of my knowledge but it keeps blocking me. Please fix? :/

    • http://www.thejoshcollins.com/ Josh Collins

      I made a tweak to it and there’s an x at the top right to close out of it as well. BTW, thanks for subscribing, that means a lot!

      • Ima_Squidface

        Thanks for checking, but there’ still no “X” for me to close it out, and it’s still blocking half the page. I was sly though…I used my mobile device to take a real quick screenshot before it popped up, so I was able to finish the article this time. I’ll keep checking in, and working around it if I HAVE to. 😉

        • Ima_Squidface

          This is what I’ve got at the top of my page. :)

          • http://www.thejoshcollins.com/ Josh Collins

            Gotcha, thx!

          • Ima_Squidface

            There’s the “X” now. Thanks! :)

  • marthaorlando

    You bring up some extremely valid points regarding social media. It can be a tool we use or it can become a tool which uses us. I, too, have consciously taken time away from Facebook in order to decompress.
    And, nothing, no matter how much fun or entertaining or informative, should ever supersede our love for and dedication to the Lord.
    Blessings, Josh!

  • troy mc laughlin

    Loved the post today Josh. Social media is a tool. When we allow anything, to get between authentic relationships, whether that’s social media or TV we’ve lost what life’s about. True connection with others can be enhanced by social media but never replaced.

  • http://www.suttonparks.com/ Sutton Parks

    While reading this post I envisioned a twitter and Facebook symbol on my casket with a number below them to show how significant my life was.

    Also, if I use social media all day is it possible to use prayer all day to?

    Your perspective has given me a fresh perspective to not lose sight of what’s important. I was hoping to learn how to increase my twitter followers. Haha! Thanks Josh!

  • Hope at the Center

    So funny! I’ve been thinking about the people I follow and follow back on Twitter as well as who I listen to in terms of blogs and other social media interactions. I keep being reminded that “Even a broken clock is right twice a day.” I am also well aware that while even my closest friends and I don’t agree on everything we still bring a lot to each other’s lives. So I’m choosing to keep some of the voices that make me uncomfortable and force me to think about what I really believe. The tension will not kill me, it might actually make me stronger!

    • http://www.thejoshcollins.com/ Josh Collins

      Great stuff! I’ve always loved the broken clock metaphor!

Posted on: January 22, 2014

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