> @StickyJesus 2) Jesus: the stickiest story ever told

fisherman with netIn celebration of Internet Evangelism Month, this is the second in a 15-part blog project discussing the book, @stickyJesus: how to live out your faith online.

And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’
~Matthew 4:19, NRSV

The Word of God equips and empowers us to change the world. Whether we know it or not, we are ready to spread the message of God’s love and Christ’s salvation throughout the world. And it’s easier than ever before!

Social media gives us the opportunity to connect with people we never dreamed of. Old schoolmates, extended family members, new colleagues, people from around the world … the list goes on and on.

But what’s the point in making the connection if there’s no community building that happens once you’ve clicked the button?

It’s not connection that we are all seeking. It’s community.

As I read this chapter, I began to see how Jesus is the perfect example of a community-builder. He spent the majority of his ministry building community with people he came into contact with on a daily basis. When we look to Jesus as our model for building true community – with believers and non-believers alike – community can be summarized using 4 A’s: awareness, authenticity, adaptation, and action.

Awareness
We can’t spread the Good News through community without first being aware of who we are and, perhaps more importantly, whose we are. In the fast-paced world we live in, we have to take time to live and breathe in God’s Word. We have to become aware of the words on the page, become aware of how they change our lives, and stay aware of God’s presence in our day-to-day lives. Without this awareness, we have nothing to share!

Authenticity
Perhaps the one thing that stands out to me most about Jesus’s ministry is his authenticity. You see what you get with Jesus. He didn’t hide behind a false identity. He never pretended to be someone he wasn’t. He was real with people. Spoken with nothing but truth and love, he said what was on his mind.

One of the most difficult things about building online community is this authenticity piece. Buried behind computer screens, iPads, smartphones, and more, we have the ability to be true to ourselves or pretend to be something we’re not. Jesus calls us to the former. It’s not always easy – sometimes we share a message that people don’t want to hear. A message of peace, justice and equality. But Jesus promises he will be right beside us when the world doesn’t like what we have to say. When we remain aware of our identity in Christ, authenticity becomes second-nature!

Adaptation
The core message doesn’t change … but the way in which we speak it does. The Word of God connects with people in the here and now. It’s alive and well. We are all part of the Story. But in order to know how to share the Word so that it connects with others, we must know what’s going on in their lives. We have to be able to connect the Bible stories with the lives they are living. Instead of making them feel like outsiders, we are called to meet them where they are. Share life with them first. Then share the Good News.

Action
Using social media to share the Gospel means we have to reach out to people we are connected to. It might mean shortening our friends list so we can truly connect with fewer people. Or perhaps it means less surface-level connection and more intentional caring for one another through social media. Regardless, we can’t sit back and let social media happen to us. We are called to use the tools that we have been given for the glory of God. What an awesome gift we’ve been given!

Questions to Consider:

  1. Where have you found community through social media?
  2. How can you change your social networking to make it more about God and less about you?

[image by adpowers]

@StickyJesus 1) you: born for such a time as this" rel="bookmark" href="http://blog.ourchurch.com/2011/05/04/stickyjesus-1-you-born-for-such-a-time-as-this/">1) you: born for such a time as this <– @StickyJesus – The Group Blog Project" rel="bookmark" href="http://blog.ourchurch.com/2011/05/02/introducing-stickyjesus-group-blog-project/">@StickyJesus project –>@StickyJesus 3) Jesus: Author of Relationships" rel="bookmark" href="http://blog.ourchurch.com/2011/05/09/stickyjesus-3-jesus-author-of-relationships/">3) Jesus: Author of Relationships

Crystal Rowe is the primary author over at SoulMunchies.com and a contributing editor at Bibledude.net. She has a heart for making the church and the Christian faith real and relevant to the world around her. Crystal is married to her perfect match, David and is Mommie to the two sweetest kitties on earth.

19 Responses to “> @StickyJesus 2) Jesus: the stickiest story ever told”

  1. Crystal, amazing insights. I can see right into your heart on this one. It shines through when you suggest maybe less friends equals more meaningful connections and relationships. That's sticky, against the cultural drift, and focuses this conversation on the significance of what we are called to do.

    Awareness. Authenticiy. Adoption. Action. (love them)
    Thank you!

    • Tami – thanks for your kind words. Building online community has been something I've been really wrestling with lately, and this chapter hit so many nails right on their heads!

  2. For the longest time I've always equated quantity as evidence that I was doing the things that God wanted me to do online. The number of twitter followers, the number of friends, the number of hits on my blog were evidence or fruit of my dedication to God and making sure it was about him. But when the numbers weren't stacking up I started worrying and made deliberate efforts to grow my following/platform or whatever. Reading this chapter really convicted me that I was using the wrong measuring stick and was making it all about me under a guise of talking about something bigger than myself. The cure?
    Focus on specific people every step of the way. At no point should I be trying to reach out to people I haven't met yet because I don't understand their wants or needs. People who are close to me however, are people I know I can impact with my words and I should build out from my inner circle of relationship not build inwards from people I've never met before.

    • Christie Weatherby May 6, 2011 at 10:32 am

      Well said, Seiji. I don't comment on your blog often, and I can't speak for anyone else, but I know that you have been an encouragement and inspiration to Kevin and I.

    • What a great perspective!

      It is so hard sometimes to keep going … wondering if the words we are saying are even making a difference. And while I do think quantity is some indicator that we are "doing the right thing", I think it's so easy to get caught up in "growing the number" without focusing on the relationship. What I loved about this chapter was that it stressed the importance of focusing on relationship … and when you do that well, the numbers will grow. Because it's not only about the words you say, it's about the relationship you build in using those words.

  3. Christie Weatherby May 6, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Thanks for your post, Crystal. I like what you said, "Instead of making them feel like outsiders, we are called to meet them where they are. Share life with them first. Then share the Good News." I think that is so important.

    I had a discussion some months ago with a pastor about how the world is really bright and busy and fun and loud and we as Christians have to compete with all of that. I never thought about social media when I said that, but what a great opportunity!

    After reading this chapter, I thought, "Cool. I get to be a missionary all over the world and I don't even have to get dressed up or leave my desk!" Also, all I have to do is the thing I do best: talk. I can handle that.

    • "Cool. I get to be a missionary all over the world and I don't even have to get dressed up or leave my desk!"

      I LOVE THIS! We are all called to be missionaries … right where we are. What a gift social media is!

  4. I love awareness, authenticity, adaptation, action!

    "It might mean shortening our friends list so we can truly connect with fewer people." I am not sure I agree with this, but…

    "Or perhaps it means less surface-level connection and more intentional caring for one another through social media." …I love this.

    Thanks so much for your insight and creative thinking.

    • Thanks Sarah!

      I am much more in favor of the second too! But I do think that there are times when are lists get inflated and we don't do a good job of reaching out to the people "on our list" … so just the thought of "shortening my list" makes me want to be more intentional about reaching out :)

  5. PaulSteinbrueck May 6, 2011 at 10:56 am

    Crystal, thanks for your post! Social media gives us the opportunity to connect with so many people it's very easy to end up going a mile wide but only an inch deep with everyone. One of the things that's always amazed me about Jesus is how he seemed to make so many _connections_ with people in the crowds, but also develop deep, authentic _community_ with his disciples, friends, and His Father. And he seemed to manage the tension between to the two so well.

    As @StickyJesus says, the gospel is the stickiest message ever and relationally Jesus was the stickiest person ever. So if we are to be like Christ and communicate the good news, we should also try to learn from Jesus to find ways to both connect with the crowd who will be drawn to the message and develop genuine community with those we're closest too.

    Part of it is time management, but there are also tools like lists on Twitter and Facebook that can help. RSS feed readers can also help us prioritize the bloggers and blogging communities we want to have stronger relationships with.

    • Paul – this is so very true.

      Jesus's ministry was full of conundrums … his ability to make a true impact in the life of the people in the crowds was enhanced by the community that he formed with those closest to him – and vice versa. I almost get overwhelmed when I think about "the greater things" that I am called to do, and then I remember all I can do is take baby steps along the way!

  6. fireball3316 May 6, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    i think my fav quote in this chapter is; “Love compelled God to send His holy Son – The Holy One – to establish relationship with us, the unholy.”

    i think then love then compels us to create community – to allow God to form connections – for us to encourage, shine and pray for people. some of the neatest connections i have made on fb and twitter is because God put someone on my heart to pray for them. that love then flows into communication and community.

    heres my take on chapter 2: http://onepassiononedevotion.wordpress.com/2011/0

  7. Wanda Simpson May 6, 2011 at 6:31 pm

    Crystal, thanks for the post. I love the 4 As! My favorite is action. We must do more than talk or write, we are called to action. Jesus never sat still during his ministry. He was always on the move and reaching out. I think that social networking allows us to reach out quickly to multitudes. And although I don't want to exclude anyone from my friends list, I do agree with you that it may be more effective to concentrate on those God has placed on your heart to reach with more quality time and attention.

  8. "we can’t sit back and let social media happen to us."

    Dude… that's the truth! This is also true in many other aspects of life. The more I observe around me, the more I learn that social media is just the tool that reflects what's probably already going on inside people. So in a broader statement…

    we can't sit back and let LIFE happen to us… and that totally includes what we do in social media.

    Great post Crystal!

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