From Social Media to Social Ministry

Day 1 of 3 • This day’s reading


What does it mean to be a Christian? In its most basic sense, to be a Christian means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. But what does that mean? Studying the Bible? Praying? Attending church services? Anyone can study the Bible. As a matter of fact, atheists and agnostics study the Bible in an effort to defeat the arguments it contains. Anyone can pray. As a matter of fact, there are many people who pray to the universe or "whoever you are up there" in hopes of bending a challenge in their favor. Anyone can attend church services. There are no "Christian Detectors" at the doors of church buildings that swipe us to determine our faith (or lack thereof). So, what does it mean to be a Christian if these descriptors alone are not enough?

Our verse today is from the lips of Jesus. He turns to John and his brother James while gathering disciples and says, "come follow me and I will send you out to fish for men." In other words, become a follower of me and the result will include being sent out to make more followers of me. If Jesus defines being a Christ follower as being someone who goes out and makes more Christ followers, how did we come to define being a Christ follower as going to a building for an hour on the weekend? Further, how did we come to believe that the best and highest use of social media is to get people to follow . . . us?

When we examine the life of Jesus, we see that he didn’t make the twelve Apostles stand at crossroads and ask people to come to watch him preach in the temple that weekend. He didn’t corral his multitude of followers to act as a “street marketing team,” hanging scrolls around town about his next sermon series. He didn’t deploy flocks of doves to airdrop invitations to the next baptism. No. Jesus didn’t share content about himself. Instead, he was out among the people making connections and having conversations. And he encouraged and equipped his followers to do the same. As a result, the impact of his three-year ministry grew exponentially to have a reach of global proportions. 

Perhaps the reason only 20% of Americans attend a weekend worship service is because we have forgotten that we are called to the 100%—not just the 20% who make it to a building. Social media is more than a tool for marketing our services, events, and selves. It is a tool for spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ and making disciples. But doing this requires making the mental shift from social media to social ministry. More than knowledge of how to strategically use social media platforms to “build a following,” this shift will require using social media tools to help people build their faith.

We have been called to be fishers of men, not keepers of the aquarium.