I just saw something on my Facebook feed that made me feel physically ill and also broke my heart at the same time. In the interest of anonymity I am not going to use the individuals name. I will simply say that is someone we used to be aquainted with through our old church (TFC) in Amarillo. He is now on staff at one the largest (read as Mega) churches in the DFW area.
This is what his status read:
John Doe: Learning why every church must twitter with Anthony Coppedge.
Someone other guys response:
“If we as a church don’t stay on the leading edge of technology we will lose people. Aren’t churches already social networks?”
I will cop to the fact that I love FB as much as anyone else. I have not yet joined the Twitter bandwagon, mainly because I thought it was something you could only use through your cell phone. My basic understanding is that people use Twitter in the same vain that I use my status update on FB: to fill you all in on the various nuances of my day. What I think, eat, smell, feel, watch, buy etc. I think the concept of a status update (or Tweet) is more for the individual posting it and not necessarily the reader. What I cannot figure out is why every church must Twitter.
As previously mentioned, I saw this and my stomach just turned over. I wasn’t so much angered or even disgusted, but really, genuinely greived. How will Twitter reach and save a lost and dying world who at the very core of creation is in the throughs of deep travail? How will the homeless, the widow, the orphan, the addicted, the oppressed and demonized be reached by Twittering. Jesus called us to be HIS hands and feet. To personally lay our hands and give our hearts to the diseased, afflicted and broken hearted of this world.
To give the off our clothes off our backs and turn our other cheek in a manner reflective of His own laying down of his life. When I think of hands and feet at work I see Mother Teresa and other missionaries, I see families that feed and cloth the poor through various outreaches, I see the banqueting table of the Bible where the last are first and the fist are last.
What I don’t see is a bunch of people on their iPhones or laptops using Twitter to tear down the walls of oppression gripping the hearts of friends, family and neighbors. I am not saying there is no place for technology …or maybe I am. I don’t really know. In my gut I just think the man addicted to porn that lives down the street will be anymore moved by the spirit of Twitter than a starving child in Africa will be. Where is the relevance of technology in the culture of death and despair pervading the Earth today. My heart is not moved by walking into Starbucks and seeing a bunch of Christians drinking latte’s and wearing designer clothes and trendy tenny shoes pecking away at the keys of a Macbook or thumbing away on some sort of texting device. If my heart is not moved, I have a hard time believing the world’s will be either.
The person who responded said “If we as a church don’t stay on the leading edge of technology we will lose people. Aren’t churches already social networks?”
What in the world?! I don’t know whether to weep or get a soapbox and start screaming in the middle of the city like John the Baptist did. Am I wrong in feeling this way? Possibly, but everything in the Spirit within me is crying out that this cannot be right. I know technology has its place. I just wrote a blog last night about Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, GA and how they have made these simple and beautiful movies that profoundly affected my heart. I think there are spiritual truths in these films that resonate to both believers and non-believers. Technology can be a wonderful tool. Look at the internet and how it has allowed millions all over the world access to online Bibles, sermons, music and ministry. Technology has allowed the Message of Christ to be spread throughout the globe at an unprecedented rate. There are several blogs that I follow that have brought genuine healing and ministry into my life. But to say that people will be “lost” to the church is we don’t become techno-geek chic … I do not believe. That sounds to me like a call to become immitators of the world, rather than the WORD.
Jesus said, “Be in the world, but not of the world.” When will we ever learn? I know this latest “trend” in church growth for some time has been to become “seeker friendly.” What does that really even mean? For me, I think a church that is seeker friendly is one that is inclusive, not exclusive. It is a place where anyone who walks in off the street could feel embraced by the people of God. The Spirit is already at work to embrace, but again, we are the hands and feet. The word says if we seek we will find. Find what? The answer should be God. Jesus. The Holy Spirit. Forgiveness. Deliverance. Healing. The Fruit of the Spirit. (Do I really need to go on?) Someone tried to explain the “relevance” of the seeker movement to me once. That we structure our church services so that people who are “curious” do not feel threatened by an atmosphere that they are unfamiliar with. Sing songs that are christian, but some adult contemporary ones they might know as well. Make church FUN! Have the Pastor ride in on a Harley and where trendy clothes to overcome the perception that christianity isn’t “cool.”
What I just wrote may offend you on some level, but you and I both know this is the kind of crap that is going on in houses of worship all over the United States every week.
The Bible describes the appearance of Jesus as not being “comely”. Read that as “he was unattractive”. Maybe unattractive is a stretch, but his appearance was such that no one was going to be “drawn” to him because of it. Perhaps “average” or “ordinary” would be better words. How ironic that someone so average in appearance was so above average in every other conceivable way. Extraordinary. Supernatural. He did very little to ever draw attention to himself (the only that comes to mind is when he overturned the vendors tables in the temple) and even withdrew from crowds. Yet people were drawn to him, like moths to a flame. When he stood on the mountain to deliver the “beatitudes” there were throngs of people gathered to listen. his words were simple, but Truth has a way of piercing right through to the heart of the matter. The Word had become flesh and it was intoxicating. The people simply could not get enough. You just have to wonder if this average guy showed up in church, or the mall or Starbucks today how would He go about reaching those who needed him most? Would it be through Twitter, or FB or appearance or state of the art buildings and church programs? The Bible says Jesus is the SAME yesterday, TODAY, and TOMORROW. I think it is pretty clear He would move in the same way, by relationship with people. Through conversation and community and serving and giving and helping.
The individuals above are entitled to their opinion, just like I am mine. I am not anti-mega church, I just don’t want to go to one. I would love to have an iPhone, but I don’t need it to reach the lost. I want to be beautiful and dress nice and smell good, but I don’t want these to be the reasons people want to know me. I want them to see and encounter Jesus through me. My words, my actions and my friendship. I want to share my testimony and know that hearing it somehow changes the life and gives hope to someone who can identify.