I’ve been active on the Internet since 1992, and I continue to marvel at the rapid transformation and growth of this incredible communication tool. Back then, I dipped my toes in Social Media through online interest groups that were text-based. These gave way to hosted bulletin boards that gave way to the era of personal websites created through basic HTML. In the days before self-publishing tools, many unpublished authors reached their online followers through these simple pages. Back then, web designers considered graphics and eye-catching media presentations as condiments and not the main course. It was all about quality written content,
MySpace and Facebook came on the scene and personal websites faded away, replaced by Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. Those who felt moved to write meaningful content moved to WordPress and other blog providers. Most writers soon discovered that if they were going to grab a new audience, they’d have to entice potential followers with short blurbs, quick videos, and witty memes. You now have about 5 seconds to grab your audience’s interest.
Most major Christian ministries hire Social Media experts who advise them on how to capture new followers. These experts sometimes go as far as to curtail ministry leaders from posting on their actual Social Media sites to lower the risk of image damage. Ministries ensure there is always fresh, witty, concise, and marketable content on all their platforms.
I would go as far as to say that many ministries and organizations no longer view the Internet as a forum for sharing significant thoughts and in-depth information. Instead, they view Social Media purely as a marketing tool to promote one’s agenda, political beliefs, ministry, or business. They count themselves a success if they have garnered at least 10,000 followers or fans on every Social Media platform.
I’ve seen ordinary users of Facebook marvel that they have racked up 4,999 friends. They look at those 4,999 supposed friends or followers as evidence that they are doing something of great worth. Conversely, if their following is small and the response to their posts on Social Media is limited, they think of themselves as insignificant. Some go as far as to pay Social Media marketing companies who will send followers their way. Quite often, those so-called fans or followers don’t even speak their language. It’s all about the numbers.
God doesn’t look at numbers reached, fans gathered, or subscribers signed up. He looks at hearts changed.
Christ chose twelves disciples and poured into their lives. Much of His wisdom and teachings were for their ears only and not spoken to the masses. Jesus had a heart to heart relationship with each of those disciples, even Judas who he knew would later betray him Jesus knew their hearts, and they knew his. His disciples had him over for dinner and he probably knew all their kids and extended family.
At the peak of his ministry, Jesus probably had hundreds of dedicated followers who regularly travelled to hear him speak wherever he happened to be. But they weren’t in His inner circle. Then there were the thousands who turned out at his gatherings to see the spectacle. When Jesus’ words were too hard for them to swallow, most of his fans disappeared. But Jesus wasn’t overly concerned; He deliberately spoke hard truths to separate the sheep from the goats. Those faceless people who ran to witness the miracles never really KNEW Jesus, they only knew his works. They rarely took the time to sit at His feet and know his heart.
Today’s Social Media experts would not approve of Jesus’ ministry building techniques. And yet, those lowly eleven disciples who remained faithful continue to impact our world thousands of years later. Christ captured their hearts, he didn’t just tickle their intellects or cater to their need for entertainment.
“By giving us control, our new technologies tend to enhance existing idols in our lives. Instead of becoming more like Christ through the forming and shaping influence of the church community, we form, and shape, and personalize our community to make it more like us. We take control of things that are not ours to control. Could it be that our desire for control is short-circuiting the process of change and transformation God wants us to experience through the mess of real-world, flesh and blood, face-to-face relationships?” – Tim Chailles
Jesus had only one plan – to do the will of His Heavenly Father and to reconcile humankind with the God who loved them so.
So, what’s your plan? Are you seeking to become famous or are you seeking to make Jesus famous? Are you looking for more followers or are you hoping to raise future leaders and active disciples of Christ?
Take time this week to travel in the slow lane of the Super-Information Highway and enjoy the view. Dare to be authentic and intentional in your message!
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All Bible verses attributed to the ESV version unless otherwise indicated.
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Until Next Week,
©2019 Katherine Walden
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