Every Friday in Sacred Space, Brad Williams explores the place of popular culture in the local church.

Most of us know that Facebook can be a handy tool for enriching and forming relationships. It helps us keep in contact with family and friends who are out of town. We get to see their family pictures, and we see their kids grow. We can wish them Happy Birthday when we might have otherwise forgot. Facebook is like an easy way to drop in and say “Hi” to someone, and a helpful reminder that even when they aren’t in your physical presence, they are out there, somewhere, living their life. On Facebook, they can share that with you.

What does that have to do with the local church? Facebook can help you build relationships with people that you might only have the occasion to see on Sunday mornings. Imagine you are new to a community, and you begin to attend a local church. They have a community group or a Sunday School class that you have enjoyed attending, but you don’t really ‘know’ those folks who are attending. So why not send out a quick Facebook friend invite? Something like, “Hey Dave. This is Brad. I’ve been attending your Sunday School class and would like to be Facebook friends.” I’m sure they’d accept. Then you can peruse their family photos and their status updates.  In that regard, it can work very much as a church directory would, only in a more personal way. Plus, having your pastor or community group leader as a Facebook friend may help us think a little before we post a rash ‘status update’.

I’m a pastor, and I’m on Facebook. Much of what I do in the office involves the use of a computer. I use the computer for research, for making outlines, and for writing. While I’m in the office, I pretty much keep Facebook open all the time. I check the status updates of my church family. I can find out who is having surgery, who is having a hard time, and who is celebrating one thing or another. Plus, they can message me if they have a question or need to talk. I get messages almost daily. It helps me connect and get to know my friends and church family better.

Yes, Facebook can be abused just like anything else. But I think that it can also be used wisely by us to help us build relationships inside our church fellowship. So go ahead, ‘befriend’ your pastor. You will probably find out that he’s actually a fairly normal person, who also has a birthday, and more than just a guy who pontificates on Sunday mornings.

Hopefully, he’ll quit sending you Farmville requests if you ask him to, and if he sends you a request to join his Mafia, tell him you are already in it.


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