This is the third post in a four part series exploring the Christian’s approach to social media. Over the previous two posts we have considered both the dangers and benefits to using social media. In today’s post we will look at how I use social media, and finally, next week offer some tips for using social media.
I am going to hold my hands up right at the beginning of this post and acknowledge that I don’t always live my life in the way that I often call others to live their lives. As a Bible teacher (in a variety of capacities) I inevitably teach things that I don’t always implement in my own life. This is the constant tension that all Bible teachers face. However, this is not for a lack of trying.
Perhaps you’ve read the previous two posts, then watched my activity on social media, and come to the conclusion ‘That guy doesn’t do what he says – he talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk’. I would have to agree, at different points in time I do indulge in some of the dangers of social media and neglect the benefits.
Therefore, I am not holding myself up as a perfect example – nor am I going to attempt to defend my use of social media. I am merely going to offer a glimpse into my thinking as I set about using social media.
Facebook and Twitter
To begin with you will probably have noticed that I have predominantly spoken about Facebook and Twitter. That is because they are the only social media accounts/profiles that I have.
To some extent this has been a conscious decision – I have restricted myself to some social media profiles so as to restrict time and effort invested in them. There are just too many – linkedin, snapchat, whatsapp, myspace, pinterest, google+, flickr, vimeo, instagram and so on. In an attempt to keep a check on my investment in social media I have restricted myself to these two accounts (which I have linked in order to get it close to only one account).
There are then three things in my mind as I use social media:
- Keeping family and friends up to date – I am now married and so no longer live with my parents. I also live in a town where none of my family members live (except for a brother and sister). Therefore, I am keenly aware that it is easy for people to lose track of where I am at and what I am doing. Whenever I think about social media I think about keeping people up-to-date with what I am doing. Primarily I do this through photographs rather than written updates – but it gives those people a feeling of being involved in my live. (This works both ways, as it also allows me to keep up to date with their lives).
- Entertainment – I also use social media for entertainment. I enjoy being kept up-to-date with the latest developments of my football team, or watching humorous videos, or reading interesting articles, or having a laugh at what friends and family have got up to. Social media can be great fun and so I use it for my enjoyment and entertainment.
- Serving others – I also like to try and serve others through social media. One of the primary ways in which I have sought to do this is through posting quotes. I have found myself in a privileged position in which I have enjoyed a lot of time to read – not all Christians enjoy that privilege. Therefore, I have sought to serve others by giving them good snippets of books that they might not come across, or don’t know whether it is worth their while investing time in reading that particular book, or just to encourage someone reading through their newsfeed.
Another element of social media that I have allowed myself to become involved in is blogging. There are two reasons for which I began blogging.
Firstly, I began blogging for my own benefit. Blogging has helped me develop a discipline of writing. Ultimately I desire to pastor a church and to be involved in preaching and teaching. This requires good communication skills. Writing has been an element of communication that I have found difficult. In light of this I saw blogging as an effective way of developing a discipline and skill in writing. As you can see that is still a work in progress. It is not just the skill of writing which is important though, it is also the ability to think through topics, issues and portions of the Bible. For almost a year and a half now, pretty much every week I have considered a specific topic for the blog. This has encouraged me to make time to think about the issue I am writing on. This has benefited me greatly in the use of my mind and cognitive abilities. All of this is subsumed into the desire simply to broaden my abilities and to continue to seek and test what gifts God has granted me.
Secondly, I began blogging for others. This may sound a little presumptuous; however I think that it is important to recognise that all Christians are equipped in some capacity to serve their brothers and sisters in Christ. As I observe church culture in Northern Ireland I realised that almost everything in it originated from the USA. Now this is not inherently a problem, but I feel that it is not always easily transferable to our culture and context. I felt it important to have people from our context to speak to our context. I love the church, despite all its foibles and follies. I want and desire other Christians to love the church. Therefore, as we set about beginning the blog I was convinced that I wanted to be involved for the good of the church. It is also nice to see some positive publicity online for the church too!
I am not a perfect example of how to use social media – but this is a quick glimpse into how I attempt to put into practice the principles laid out in the previous two posts.