Learning to use social media is like learning to follow Jesus by @vahva

The nickname ‘Digital Disciple‘ given to those of us who write regularly for this site is apt in more ways than one.

I’ve been training people to use social media for about 5 years now. I’ve worked with small businesses, big business, schools, universities and lots of churches. When an organisation first starts thinking about social media, they often hope that:

  • it’s going to be easy
  • it will be a ‘magic bullet’ to solve all their problems
  • it won’t require too much effort
  • or if it’s none of the above, they can pay someone else to do it for them

free image from sxc.hu

Some people come to the Christian faith in the same way. There are countless times in the gospels where Jesus points out the importance of having a living faith, of doing – “go and do likewise” (Luke 10:29) – just saying you believed things wasn’t enough. Perhaps his challenge appears most starkly in the story of the feeding of the 5000:

“As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” Matthew 14:15-16

Jesus does his best to tell his hearers that being a Christian disciple is not going to be easy, being a Christian will not be a magic bullet that solves all your problems, it will require lots of effort and you can’t pay someone else to do it for you (people tried that in Medieval times – the Reformation came in to put a stop to that).

When I start my sessions on social media, I always talk about the importance of:

  • engagement
  • authenticity
  • recognition that online does not mean ‘not real life’
  • being encouraging and helpful

These are also the values of a good Christian disciple. We will not grow as Christians if we are not engaging with each other and with the world around us. We will not be a good example to others if we are not authentic about who we are in Christ – warts and all. We must recognise that we can’t separate our church-self, from our work or home-self – church life is real life too! And of course, we can’t help one another to grow without being encouraging and helpful.

The same hesitations people have about using social media they can also have about their living out their Christian faith. To be successful with social media, you have to dive in and get wet – to be a true disciple of Christ, you have to do the same – hey, I knew there was a reason we get wet at baptism!

The Christian faith is a challenge to change, Jesus came announcing:

 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” – Mark 1:15

Repent means to change one’s mind or to turn around. People don’t like to change.

Living life to the full (John 10:10) means really getting involved, finding things hard, facing challenges, making new friends: all things that can be experienced when learning to use social media.

So I’m a digital disciple in lots of senses of the word! How about you?

Image Credit: Sxc.Hu

About Bryony Taylor

Enthusiast for learning, technology, Christian faith and life! Ordinand in the Church of England - training at Cranmer Hall, Durham.