I can list the benefits of social media: How it can be used to hold politicians and MSM journalists accountable. How it can make a number of things in life and communication easier and more accessible. And, of course, how it enables us to connect and reconnect around the globe. All of which I greatly appreciate.
And, I know the irony here as well, that I will be critiquing social media on a social media platform--but stick with me on this (church people and church leaders, anyway). All technologies have positives and negatives.
One thing I find disturbing, nonetheless, about social media: it distracts us from where we are at—it enables us to have less focus on the place and space we are in, the place and space our church is in—and ultimately our neighborhood and neighbors right where we live and should be doing church.
Our global, detached and wholly irresponsible, eye (focus), which is promoted and maintained through social media, distracts from our local place and spaces. Like the new automobile (back in the 50s) that began to rob (and still robs) smaller, more local, neighborhood churches of congregants that fled (that is, were then able to drive and still drive) to the more popular, bigger, well-resourced city churches (now the more suburban, neighborhood-less churches) and other locals elsewhere out of their own neighborhoods, now social media makes us think we are too big for our neighborhoods and t0o big for our small, nearby friends, family, and neighborhoods. It enables a sincere and passionate belief that ______LivesMatters, but not necessarily the lives in our own home, family, or right next store.
Mature Christians need to rethink this stuff. Some rebellion against social media is warranted by church leaders. (In my humble opinion, this is worse, more deceptive, and more urgent than internet porn.) Church leaders need to make pains to think and do locally (very locally at the neighborhood level). Social media distracts us from the real life of next door; makes us group think globally and then think that is what it is next to us. The body of Christ through the lens of social (and of course the main stream) media is thin and shallow and will not have the long, strategic play of the Spirit, which starts and matures in a place--in one's own back yard.
Chip M. Anderson, advocate for biblical social action; pastor of an urban church plant in the Hill neighborhood of New Haven, CT; husband, father, author, former Greek & NT professor; and, 19 years involved with social action.