Tag Archives: social media

Social Media Preaching — Will Hester

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube have all gained notoriety over the last fourteen years because of the appeal of connection. As a society, we want to feel connected to the world in which we live and social media gives us just that. It has transformed from being only a “college experiment” to an international phenomenon.

Technology is racing to try and keep up with social media, yet we as a church are dragging our feet. Many churches try to buck the trend of being technologically challenged, using Facebook Live, YouTube Live Stream and other types of streaming. However, this has only been within the last six to seven years. Our brethren, for one reason or another, have always been leery of using innovative methods to get the Word out to a lost and dying world. “Don’t fix what is not broken,” is just one statement that has been used in regards to innovative ways to reach the lost.

Christ would say, “Go therefore and teach all nations” (Matt. 28:19), but are we truly going into the entire world? There is a notion that we need to only focus on our local communities and maybe the surrounding communities; whether it is in the church right now remains to be seen. Is that what the Great Commission actually says? Did Christ say, “Go therefore into the local community and only the local community?” Christ did not say that then and he is not saying that now. The Great Commission is still as valid today as it was in the first century. Christ does not change and His Word does not change, but our delivery of the message should change to help reach more people.

Every generation has had an advantage over the previous generation with regards to evangelism. Those who lived after the advent of the car and airplane had a bigger advantage than their fathers and mothers. Those of us in the twenty-first century have a major advantage over our parents’ generation. With the advent of the Internet, we can instantaneously let people know about God’s word.

The Hebrews writer would state, “For the word is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb. 4:12). The word for “active” here is ἐνεργὴς (energés). This word carries the idea of being full of energy or being effective. As Christians, we must understand that this is a directive to us as well! We must be full of energy for the Lord and the cause of Christ. An energized church will be effective in spreading the gospel to the entire world. Social media is the best conduit for evangelizing a perpetually moving world.

Just as with any good thing, there are negatives that can be recognized. We must be careful with the rhetoric that we use on social media. The previous statement can be taken by some to mean that we should not speak out against false teaching, but that is the furthest thing from the truth. We must, as with anything we say from any forum, speak the truth in love and power. Paul would write, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also the Greek” (Rom. 1:16). He would also state in his letter to the church at Ephesus in Ephesians 4:15-16, “…but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (Eph. 4:15-16). In these passages, Paul makes it clear to not be ashamed of the Gospel and to speak about that power in love.

The problem the church faces is one of playing catch up to the growing trend of social media evangelism. Most churches are realizing that to be able to spread the gospel to a wider audience they must accept that social media is a resource. Some might say, “Well, we do not have the resources or funds to pay for a camera to be installed at the church,” or, “We do not have internet at the church.” These are excuses and not solutions. In the age of smart phones, there most likely is a person who has one at the church. There are apps that will allow you record your sermon and download that same sermon onto your computer in mp4 format. You can then post that recording on your personal Facebook page. I was once told, “It doesn’t matter what technology you have because you can make anything work in your favor.” Another idea that can be implemented is using the built in camera on your laptop. Understandably, the video most likely will not be high definition quality, but you will be able to put the lessons on the Internet. This can be a temporary fix for a long-term goal.

The previous ideas are easily implemented and can further the evangelism and personal work of the church. Many times we are scared of the unknown to the point that we lose sight of the end goal, which is bringing souls to Christ. Acts 8:4 states, “Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word.” We see that, although the Christians were scattered, they were preaching everywhere. They were not ashamed of the Gospel and they were not afraid. We must, with all of the tools at our disposal in the twenty-first century, be willing to do everything we can to bring souls to Christ. In Acts 2:46-47, Luke states, “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” When we continue in one accord and the people outside the church see that, then we will have favor with everyone and God will give the increase. Paul would state, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor” (1 Cor. 3:6-8).

I recognize that when reading these passages we do not read of social media or the Internet. However, we do read of what we must do as Christians to spread the gospel of Christ. As long as we do not go against Scripture when we spread the Gospel, then we must use any tool at our disposal. Gospel Broadcasting Network based out of South Haven, MS, has taken up the mantle to show churches that it does not have to be as hard as we make it to spread the gospel through various media mediums. After having spoken with Mark Teske, who is one of the men involved with GBN, he says, “If a church has website they can go to the Gospel Broadcasting Network website and copy the embed code of the live stream, then create a page on their website to embed the code. Once embedded on the page and it is made live, then you will have a 24 hour broadcast people can watch from the comfort of their own homes on their computers or other devices.” This simple addition can be wonderful tool to let people see the truth of the Word of God taught in its’ simplicity and power.

My belief is that churches should embrace the use of technology to spread the borders of the kingdom. We have the means and the access, but we must first step out of our comfort zone. Our mission as Christians is to bring souls to Christ each day and to show them the way of true salvation through the Word of God. Some people have never heard the Word preached and are afraid to come to a church service for fear they will be mocked by those in attendance. The avenue of social media is a great way to give those people a chance to hear the Gospel and to become acclimated to the way worship is done. As long as we make sure they understand that they are always welcomed in the services and that they will not be judged for what they have done, then we will see our attendance grow spiritually and numerically.

Social media preaching, when used effectively, is great source and tool to use to bring people to knowledge of the truth that would never have had the opportunity previously in their lives. We must work diligently to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ because souls are in jeopardy. May we strive to bring souls to Christ each day of our lives till the day we are called home to be with our Father!

Will is a fourth-generation gospel preacher who is married to Sarah. He preaches at the Osceola Church of Christ in Osceola, AR.

Living In Spirit And Truth In A Social Media World — Tony Brewer

Worshiping in spirit and in truth simply means worshiping with the proper attitude and doing the right things (John 4:24). If worship is to be done in spirit and truth then the service we offer by our lives is to be done in spirit and truth as well (Rom. 12:1). Living in spirit and truth has always been complicated but in the last two decades we have introduced social media and made it even more complicated.

The platform of social media changes from time to time. Myspace gives way and makes room for Facebook. Snapchat fell out of favor with the masses. Instagram rose in prominence. YouTube is holding on and revamping to be more conducive to social interaction between its subscribers. It does not matter which platform is popular or which platform you use, you must maintain a life of service to God in spirit and truth. How is that done? To answer that question we will notice the main misconception about social media, the main problem with social media, and the solution to the problem.

The Main Misconceptions About Social Media

What we do in this plane of existence lasts in eternity. According to the voice from heaven, the labor of the dead who die in the Lord follow them (Rev. 14:13). In like manner, our evil deeds will follow us if we die outside the Lord (Rom. 2:6). Thus it is with social media.

Sadly, many refer to their face to face interaction with this world as the “real world” and social media as “not the real world.” The concept that social media does not affect our existence in this world and the next is absurd.

A cursory search of the internet turns up cyberbullyhotline.com, which list statistics concerning the pandemic problem of bullying online. Cyberbullyhotline.com lists, “42% of teenagers with tech access report being cyberbullied over the past year,” “of the 69% of teens that own their own computer or smart phone, 80% are active on social media, and “20% of kids cyberbullied think about suicide, and 1 in 10 attempt it.” Am I saying that Christians on social media are bullying people to the point of suicide? No, I am not. However, these statistics are indicative of a powerful tool that can not be relegated to the realm of “not the real world.”

What we do on social media affects us, period. It does not happen without consequences. If we can understand that social media is simply media, and there is no difference between social media and the real world, then we will be much better equipped to live in spirit and truth in a social media world.

The Main Problem With Social Media

In my personal ministry I am heavily involved with social media as a gospel preacher. I am part of a group of men who work together to spread the gospel on Facebook. From personal experience, the negative things Christians do on social media have less to do with living a wicked life in their face to face interactions and more to do with how they conduct themselves fulfilling their obligations to the Great Commission.

There have been more atrocities committed in the name of contending for the faith on social media than I would care to try and list. I know we are told to contend for the faith (Jude 3). Are we to contend to the point of casting the very life of a Christian in a negative light? If you will allow me to appropriate the words of Paul, God forbid!

A principle comes to mind from Paul’s letter to the Christians in Corinth. These Christians were trying to live in spirit and truth in the socioeconomic climate of the first century. Sadly, they were taking fellow Christians to court and suing them (1 Cor. 6:6). Paul spoke of this as being a shame to them (1 Cor. 6:5). He said that the solution to this is to just take the wrong (1 Cor. 6:7). Notice that Paul equated the wrong of going to court in front of unbelievers to the wrong that the offending brother committed in the first place (1 Cor. 6:8). This principle is applicable to Christians living their lives in spirit and truth in a social media world. Christian, take the wrong!

Being offended is the new “it” thing to be. If we look in the right places we will find offensive things on social media. If we look hard enough and diligently enough, we will find Christians who disagree with us on matters of judgment and on matters of salvation. It seems that some Christians on social media take it upon themselves to reprove all the unfruitful works of darkness in existence (Eph. 5:11). I know that reproving the unfruitful works of darkness is a commandment that is in the Bible and that it is applicable to Christians even in a social media world. Yet, there are unbelievers who see everything we do on social media. When we publicly mark someone as a heretic, in principle we are going to law before the unbelievers. Christians have not been living and interacting with social media long enough to understand the ramifications of hauling a alleged heretic before a social media tribunal and denouncing him as hell bound. We are not called to be spiritual policemen. Contrariwise Paul asked whether we should rather take the wrong or at least deal with the alleged heretic privately. When we publicly mark alleged false teachers on social media we are sacrificing our effectiveness to reach others with the gospel upon the altar of being right. Friends, that might be in truth, but it is certainly not in spirit.

If we want to live and serve in spirit and truth on social media, we must cast our Christianity in the best possible light. As Christians we must not wallow in the mud with those who would tarnish the very name of Christ which we wear. Publicly airing our grievances, whether justified or not, is the main problem otherwise faithful Christians face while trying to live in spirit and truth in a social media world.

Now, if you are like me you have fallen short from time to time. Do not lose heart. Simply resolve to be more Christ-like in your approach to evangelism on social media (Phil. 2:1-11). Now, let us look at some Scripture in order to understand how to solve the problem of social media.

The Solution To The Problem

The solution to the problem facing the Christian living life in spirit and truth in a social media world is simple. Do less contending for the faith and more evangelism. The microcosm of social media is not the place to contend for the faith by policing brethren. We have to shine light on error, we have to preach truth which convicts, and we must preach the whole counsel of God. However, we can not do this by imposing our opinions of the way things ought to be on others (Acts 20:27; Eph. 5:11; 2 Tim. 4:2).

How can we solve the problem of social media? It is simple. Lead a quiet life, mind our own business, and work as we are commanded by God (1 Thess. 4:11). If we can accomplish these three things, then we will lack nothing, and we will be known to walk honestly to those who are unbelievers (1 Thess. 4:12).

Keeping the commandments given to us by God will help to solve the problem with social media. If we are busy doing the Lord’s evangelistic work, then we will not have time to haul others before a social media tribunal. Again, we are not called to be spiritual policemen.

If we believe the best in our brethren and do not jump to conclusions, we will not be offended so quickly (1 Cor. 13:7). In so doing, we will be able to show the love of Jesus to the world by showing a love for the brethren (John 13:34-35). By showing love toward our brethren, we can show the world that it is desirous to be a Christian. Then perhaps those that see us will be drawn to study with us and consequently be drawn to Jesus (John 6:44-45).

Conclusion

Living in spirit and in truth in a social media world can be daunting. It is fraught with danger. Social media is a difficult place to live and keep the proper attitude along with doing what is right. If Christians can understand that what happens on social media is real, if Christians can be aware of the main problem of social media, and if Christians will solve their problem, then they will have no difficulty living in spirit and truth in this social media world.

Tony is the gospel preacher for the Bay Church of Christ in Bay, AR. He is a 2015 graduate of the Memphis School of Preaching. He also does extensive social media evangelism and Bible teaching.