As a minister to college students, Facebook is more of a staple in my diet than bread and water. And apparently, I am not alone. At last check, Facebook boasts 500 million active users, with 50% of them logging in on any given day. People are spending 700 billion minutes per month on the site.
In addition to gathering at the local watering hole or sports stadium, people are congregating on Facebook. And, as responsible followers of Christ who take the Great Commission seriously, we need to be there.
Furthermore, did you know that 70% of Facebook’s users are located outside of the United States? This means there are 350,000,000 potential global relationships for us to forge. Jesus calls us to go out into the world to make disciples. But, through Facebook, the world is literally coming into our living rooms.
Because of it’s simple design, Facebook is, as the authors state, “a perfect place for you to begin to work out your expression of faith online.” Your friends are telling you what they are doing, thinking, and feeling on Facebook. This affords you the incredible opportunity to be present in their lives.
Our work in this digital mission field must not stop with presence only. It must move on towards engagement and expression. Here are a few ways I have learned to move into this relational glory land on Facebook:
1) Comment. Facebook makes it so easy to comment on the statuses, links, videos, and content others are posting. Do this. This is where we begin to engage on Facebook with the neighbors we are called to love.
Respectfully ask questions. Lovingly share your thoughts. Truthfully reveal God’s way, will, and Word. Clicking “Like” is too easy. Go deeper by commenting and continuing the conversation. Be honest and transparent. And be an ambassador for the Savior whose Kingdom you represent.
2) Contribute. It’s easy to consume content on Facebook. However, if we are to begin and grow relationships on Facebook, we must be willing to share what is going on in our own lives as well.
This is more than posting a status letting the world know you had PB&J for lunch. We must post with purpose and intention! I am not afraid to share my struggles, frustrations, and confusion over life. I often post Bible verses with some corresponding thoughts. I ask provocative questions, inviting others into a spiritual discussion. I post statuses asking friends to share with me how I can be praying for them. All of these are useful ways to purposefully and intentionally contribute to the conversation.
3. Coordinate. Facebook is an incredibly handy tool for coordinating with others for great purposes. For example, after the devastating tornado in Joplin this last weekend, I felt compelled to action. One Facebook post (combined with a blog post, a tweet, and an email) let my friends know I would be collecting relief supplies throughout the day. Fifteen hours later, I was on the road to Joplin with three trucks and trailers full of supplies and another load left behind because we were out of room.
Behold the power of Facebook when coordinating relief efforts, ministry gatherings, concerts of prayer, or so much more.
I assume most of us reading this post are already on Facebook. Perhaps, though, we aren’t using Facebook to its full potential for maximum Kingdom impact. It all comes back to relationships. We must gather where the people gather. And once we are there, we must earn the right to engage with them and express what God is up to.
A few questions:
1) How does the sheer global reach of Facebook change your perspective on its value?
2)What other ways have you experienced effective commenting, contributing, or coordinating on Facebook?
3) Besides engagement and expression, how else can we move beyond simple presence on Facebook?[image by Laughing Squid]
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