Social Media And Sermons
For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
2 Corinthians 2:2 NRSV
I share this brief blog from a personal conviction and challenge about my stewardship with the calling on my life and the Christ I proclaim.
Without question we live in a world whose chief mode of communication is social media. Facebook. Instagram. SnapChat. Twitter. Periscope. This is the world in which we live and these are the modes of communication. The question that is central to this blog, and one that I wrestle with in my own conscience, is this: Am I using social media to communicate the message of Christ and the Cross or to promote my brand? Am I making the most of social media to communicate Christ?
We see it everywhere. I am just as guilty as others. It is the Instagram picture with my book or with “celebrity” Christians (if that exist). It is the Tweet sharing where I am off to preach. It is the video of the “praise break” or the “close” or “shutting down” of the sermon. It’s the invitation to a Prayer Call. It is the invitation to invite others to here me preach. We see it everywhere. I am just as guilty as others.
This week as I pray and fast in light of the passion of our Christ, I have been both challenged and convicted. This past Sunday I had the opportunity to preach before and for an individual that I certainly consider a mentor, a leader, a Paul for my Christian ministry. That evening at dinner I reached for my iPhone, touched the camera app, and started to ask for a picture with him. For what? To share it on social media and perhaps get some points with my peers.You know . . . bragging rights (just being honest). For some reason or another I declined the temptation. Then, moments later, he shared personally and honestly his concerns with social media and his discipline of its use. Glad I didn’t ask for that picture…lol.
My earnest desire is to be a practicing theologian and serious student of the Scriptures. So, I will put this in a exegetical and biblical-historical context. How would Paul, the preacher of preachers make use of social media? Would he have a picture of he and the individual who just picked up a copy of his latest book – “A Letter to the Church at Ephesus”? Would he tweet who he was preaching for and where? Would he brag about his preaching itinerary? Would he brag about how many joined in on the prayer call? In fact, would he have a prayer call or would he seize the opportunity to pray one-on-one with individuals whenever the opportunity presented itself?
Probably not. Paul was more consumed with what the Holy Spirit had impressed upon him to say than where he was sent to share that message. Paul was more consumed with the cross and the message of Jesus Christ than bragging rights. In fact, on one occasion when he does share his accomplishments and achievements, he considers them nothing.
For me, the temptation of social media is that it can deceitfully draw me away from the message that I preach and promote me . . . the messenger. I am tempted to follow what others are doing in their congregations and implement those things rather than listen to the Holy Spirit and the unique calling on my life. I am easily tempted to Periscope or Facebook Live my sermon because I can camouflage the truth that I am really promoting myself to get another engagement under the auspices that I am trying to share the Gospel.
The Barna Group reports that two in five millennials say church is not important because they can find God anywhere. The Barna Group reports that nearly 70% of millennials do not think it is very important to attend church. The Barna Group reports that nine of ten pastors provide faith assistance through the use of the internet.
How is that a message in the first century that produced such a passion in the lives of persons that they were willing to die for the cause has now evolved into a climate of compromise? Could it be that, particularly in the black church, the popularity of the message has been compromised with the popularity of the messenger?
I don’t have the answer. What I do know is that in my own personal life I need to be certain that I do not allow social media to become a situation that promotes me more than the message I proclaim. I need to be certain that I do not allow social media to become a situation where I promote the book I have written more than reading the Word of God. I need to be positive that those who view my pages, post, pictures, blogs or videos are drawn to ask the most important question: “What must I do to be saved?”
Maybe this week it might be well that I who preach Christ take a fast from myself so that others will know that I know nothing among them except Jesus Christ, and him crucified.