Does Social Media Help Break Down Denominational Barriers?

church denomination word cloudThe weekly church social media chat #ChSocM has been providing some good fuel for blog posts recently and last night’s chat about social media and denominations was no exception.

It’s no secret that denominations are on the decline. Most mainline denominations are losing members. Meanwhile non-denominational churches and non-denomination para-church ministries are continuing to grow. I believe much of it stems from the rising value in Christianity to work together where we agree.

Offline, I can work with you to bring food and the gospel to people who are hungry without agreeing with your view of baptism. I can join with you for a city-wide evangelism event without first needing to agree with you on end-times theology.

The same is true online.

We can have conversations here about how to communicate more effectively online without our theological differences every coming up. It’s not that those differences don’t matter or we’re avoiding them. They just aren’t our focus and we don’t want unrelated differences to get in the way of learning from each other.

In fact, our staff here at OurChurch.Com are Lutheran, Southern Baptist, Christian and Missionary Alliance, Christian/Disciples of Christ, and Methodist.

Some of the social media communities I appreciate most include:

I don’t know what denomination the leaders of those ministries are a part of, but I know I have learned a lot and been greatly encouraged by all of them.

Communication is changing so rapidly we can’t afford to only listen and learn from those people in our own denominations.

What denomination are you a part of? Where has social media enabled you to connect with people from other denominations and learn and grow?

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, elder of CypressMeadows.org, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.

9 Responses to “Does Social Media Help Break Down Denominational Barriers?”

  1. Great post–and great question, Paul. On the surface, at least, my social-media life me far beyond my Colorado roots, my African American heritage and the closed world of my African Methodist Episcopal church. All good. I assume it does the same for many, regardless of background. Yet how much of our contact goes skin deep? Or pew deep? Time will tell. For now, however, more of us are talking beyond our borders. May God move us all to the next step. Thanks for your post.

    • PaulSteinbrueck Nov 16, 2011 at 4:25 pm

      Patricia, it's great to hear social media has expanded your world. Before social media and blogs it's very unlikely I would have had the opportunity to discuss communication with an AME, African American woman from Colorado. So, social media has obviously expanded my world too and this a great first-hand example. :)

  2. I currently attend North Pointe Community Church, which is non-denominational, but technically, we are Southern Baptists so I am told. I was brought up Lutheran, married into a UCC/Lutheran church.
    Being online and in the Social Media, I have connected with many people of many faiths. On one occasion a few years ago, I had been using Digg and Ieft a comment that mentioned the LORD. At that time, comments on Digg could(might still be able to) be voted up and down by readers. For a week, I watched as the comment went up and down with votes and as others left comments, many of which were from atheists, but then there were some positive comments that were left by believers which also gave me hope.
    As a believer, I believe we need to be out in the popular Social Media as well, as we do want to keep our light on top of a hill for all to see.

    • PaulSteinbrueck Nov 16, 2011 at 4:28 pm

      Hi Adam, you're right that social media provides opportunities to not only build bridges across denominational barriers but also beyond the walls of the church to those who do not yet follow Jesus.

  3. Oops, sorry, I might have been ranting..sorry..yes, I believe you are right that it does break down denominational barriers, but I am sure if we are not conscious of our differences, and concerned about others views, that potential rifts could occur.

  4. Early on, I decided to follow people from all Christian denominations and across the spectrum (left to right) within those denominations. I've used Twitter to virtually attend major convocations meetings of Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Episcopalians, and Methodists.

    As a sociologist, I was fascinated by who would initially follow me back and then unfollow because of perceived/assumed doctrinal differences. As a Christian convert from Judaism, I was dismayed by this. That happened three years ago and I'm happy/relieved to note more ecumenism happening as a result of social media — at least among Protestants!

  5. As a 48 yr old who has spent most of my life in AG churches, I have found my own world greatly broadened by Social Media. I help run a message board that consists of Baptists, Lutherans, Catholics and a few others :) I am friends with many of them on facebook and recently had the opportunity to meed one of the young people who frequented the board as a teen. He told me that the message board was his youth group and that the other "old" person (a Lutheran) and I were the youth leaders. It was nice to know that we had such a positive impact. :)

  6. I subscribe to the Watchmen Nee trilogy — THE CHURCH AND THE WORK — statement that there should only be a geographical description for a gathering of saints. E.g. The Church at Durban, Glenwood area, Macdonald Street.
    Theological differences become a matter of less concern that way.
    The gathering together in harmony of the people of Jesus's Body becomes supremely important, because we are not divided from the beginning by a theological label.
    This is an imperative if the Church ever wants to enter into true unity.
    Blessings,
    Doug

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