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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Are You a Christian Giving Up Social Media for Lent? Please Don't.

This is a public service announcement.

If you are a church communicator, if you are a clergy person, if you are a Christian, please don't give up social media for Lent unless you are only using social media to play Angry Birds and Scrabble with your friends six hours a day.

A Christian communicator who gives up posting on Facebook, Tweeting, or writing online during Lent is a Christian who has decided not to talk about God, about Jesus, about faith, during the church's season expressly dedicated to preparing for the greatest event in history, the foundation of our faith, the hope of our salvation, the resurrection of our savior Jesus Christ.  This is the the time when faithful people gather together more often than ever.  And you're not going to talk about it in public?

Your church is not going to keep its Facebook page updated about all the opportunities for prayer, for study, for soup, for conversation, for fellowship during this intense season of preparation for the sign to the world of the world's salvation?  You are not going to put your message that God is Love out there every day in the stream of conversation that is going on all around you?  And instead you're going quiet to be a Christian all by yourself, to refrain from witnessing to the Gospel and inviting the world to taste and see that the Lord is good?

For the love of God, please don't do that.

If you need a discipline for Facebook, go through your newsfeed at a set time every day and pray for each of the people whose names and pictures pop up.  (Thanks, Tracy, for the idea.) Or decide not to post anything but a prayer or a meditation every day instead of your Bejeweled Blitz score.  Or decide to post something specific about your faith every day or twice a week or do something to add to the stream of talk out there.

Please don't excuse yourself from the conversation for forty days.  The world needs to hear your voice, to see what the Church is doing; the world needs you to host the conversation, to debate, discuss and ponder the upcoming Paschal mystery, to prepare not only yourself but help others prepare for the good news that on the third day God acted again in history to show us that Love is stronger than Death.

Thank you, and see you tomorrow for the solemn fast of Ash Wednesday.

(P.S.  Follow up post is here about what you SHOULD be doing on social media for Lent!)

5 comments:

  1. I agree with you 100% (actually I agree with you 110% but I am stalked by pedants who would have a right go at me if I was to state that publicly).

    I also agree with you regarding the praying of blogrolls. It is actually part of my everyday spiritual discipline (hence my appearance on your fine blog today). It is by far the most satisfying part of my entire blogging experience and I cannot recommend too highly.

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  2. Hi! We haven't met, but someone posted a link to your blog and it showed up in my facebook newsfeed :-) I love your suggestion to actively pray for people in my blog roll and in my newsfeed, so thank you for that inspiration!

    I don't necessarily agree that collectively, Christians shouldn't give up social media for lent. I think giving up something for lent is something that should be reflected on. Everyone I know who has given up facebook for lent is doing so out of a desire to remove social media from the limelight of their life. All too often we resort to using social media to share our faith. It doesn't take much courage to say "God loves you" behind a computer screen. We mustn't rely on the internet to replace real life relationships and the real life act of sharing our faith and inviting unbelievers to be a part of God's love. (I'm not saying that personally you do this, but I think that sometimes it might be true for others)

    What did the Christians do before facebook? Twitter? (What did ANYONE do for that matter? haha!)

    I see your heart in this, and I admire your desire to share Gods love as often as possible. I just think that whenever anyone gives up anything for lent, it should be out of a heart that has asked God, "Is there anything that I've made more important than you, Lord?" and if that's facebook, then so long facebook for 40 days, you know?

    Just my thoughts :-) It's nice to "meet" you and please, feel free to write back!

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  3. Thanks, MP!

    Leslie, nice to meet you, too! Thanks very much for reading my blog! I don't disagree with what you say. Lenten disciplines should be carefully considered and virtual relationships should not eclipse personal ones. At the beginning of the post I said if you're using social media to waste time, by all means give it up. I started writing this post more about clergy and church communicators who use social media to host conversation (both virtual and in person) about faith but then decided I also wanted to urge all people of faith to add their voices to the conversation that's going on out there all the time. In fact, what I wish is that more church folks would use social media to invite people to come to their church sponsored events and groups and activities! In person. That's what I was getting at.
    Thanks so much for coming by and for taking the time to leave your comments - I hope you'll come back again. Mostly what I do here is post prayers and reflections.
    Penny

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  4. Hello Penny,
    I'd like to propose a slightly different take on things. First, I administer the social media pages and websites for my church and religious order and yes, I'm one of those who gave up Facebook for Lent. I'll log on to administer the pages and websites, but do not check my own personal site. Yes, this does affect my ministry as some of my FB friends are parishioners and folks I do outreach to.

    So why? Because I think that stepping out the stream of social media for a while can provide a living, modern example and experience of what it's like to remove some of the distractions of the world and in that space and silence begin different and potentially deeper ways to encounter God, ourselves, and our community.

    I blog about it a bit here:
    http://40dayswithoutfacebook.weebly.com/

    I think there are different ways and mediums to have the conversation about God during this season---and leaving the realm of social media for a while can provide as much Christian witness and sharing of experience as staying on. It just depends...

    Thank you for your thoughtful reflections this season.

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  5. Sr. Lyngine Dominique-Marie - thank you so much for your comment. You are able to provide two different witnesses to the faith - one by keeping the public sites updated, as I suggest, and also modeling sabbath keeping. Good for you! Thank you very much for adding a helpful component to this discussion.
    Penny

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