“Christianity seems safer online; I can ask the questions without having to look stupid for asking them.”
So said a friend when I asked her why it is that she can ask me every difficult question about my faith online, yet avoids the subject in real life. And she’s not the only one. All sorts of people ask me about my faith online who would never broach the subject in the playground, at the pub or over a coffee. It’s got me thinking why this might be and so starts this series of musings on the subject: Seekers Find Seeking Safer Online.
Today I ask the first of two simple questions which I know don’t have simple answers, the second I’ll tackle next month.
- Do seekers find the online space safer for seeking God?
- Why is God easier to seek online?
1 – Do seekers find the online space safer for seeking God?
I have been open about my faith for at least six years. During that time I’ve had a few limited face to face conversations with people about God; whilst I’ve had dozens, if not hundreds, of conversations with the same people through Facebook, Twitter and my blog.
Some of these people ask me to pray, a few ask about church services and whether they can come along, many ask questions which boil down to how I found God, whilst others challenge me with the big questions about the Bible, Heaven, Sin and Love.
I have been fascinated by the way people will see me in the street and chat about life, then find me online a few hours later and want a deep conversation about God. It is a true joy and privilege, one I value as part of my ministry; but it leaves me wondering why.
So I asked some of them and, as the quote at the beginning shows, they tell me that it’s less scary online. It’s something about the informality and distance; the ability to pause and think, which can be difficult in a conversation; and the way discussions can pick up where they left off several hours, days or weeks later.
It is clear to me that people want to find out about God, about church, about faith and prayer but there is fear associated with going into a place of worship and asking someone. Online has none of the power and knowledge associations, it is a safe place to ask away and find answers in your own time.
At least that is my experience; what is yours?
- Have you found it safer to search for God online?
- Do you have more people asking the big questions online?
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