The Facebook Church

Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out threats of murder against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest 2to ask for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any men or women belonging to the Way, he could bring them as prisoners to Jerusalem Acts 9:1-2....."The Church was first known as the people of the Way. The "Way" these people embraced was the Way of Jesus - the way of power in weakness for the sake of love..We are bound together as those who live in, through, and for the way. We are the family of the Way, called to walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit, called to walk the path of Jesus to the cross, and called into His death and resurrection." Jamin Goggin.....A gathering becomes a church when people meet for one supreme purpose...Not to enjoy life or to help others enjoy life. Not to persuade others to find life in Jesus, but to become like Jesus in their motives, thoughts, and appetites, and all for the pleasure of the Father. They then declare war on everything within them, not others, that gets in the way of the goal." Unknown

 

Some years back, a very popular movie detailing the founding of Facebook was made, "The Social Network." As I was contemplating the above Scripture and quotes, the Lord brought to me the title of that movie, and the thought of how similar the church has been to just that; a social network. The Facebook Church.

I have been a pastor here in Northern Virginia for more than two decades now, and in that time I have seen real cultural shifts. When I came, the yellow pages (remember them?) and newspaper ads were effective means of letting people know you were here. I would often get calls from those who were "church shopping," usually after newly arriving in the area. Their questions generally went along a very similar line; what ministries can you offer our children? How many people attend? What kind of music do you have? In short, what can you offer me that another church can't? One person told me how they had gone by a particular church on a Sunday morning and had only counted 14 cars in the lot. They didn't bother to go in. They judged that the fellowship was too small to offer anything of import. Years of ministry have reinforced the idea that people are mainly wanting to find a church that offers them a great social network. The spiritual interest is secondary to the emotional. Another question was whether there was an active youth "ministry" that can keep our kids occupied (and entertained) and out of trouble? It is not wrong to want to find enriching relationships in the Body of Christ. The church should be the primary place for that, but in all of it, not once, did anyone ask me if the Presence of Christ, of His Holy Spirit, saturated the church? No one ever asked if lives were being transformed, if the Word was proclaimed with power, or if Christ and His cross were central to all that went on. The real desire was for a strong social network. A Facebook church before there even was a Facebook. Worse than this, if people were actually looking for a place to do ministry, most often, they wanted a place that offered a very visible platform from which to do it. They looked for a crowd. They had no ability to see all the faceless ones within the crowd. They believed they were "sent" to the many. They had no idea of what it was to be sent to only a few, or only one....if such pleased the Father.

Things have changed here since those days. A new generation, not much affected by "the church" has arisen. They don't have a church background, and they're not much aware of the church, if at all. Though that "social network" desire still exists, and always will, it will not suffice to reach them. We can summon all of our resources, but, as the unknown speaker of the above quote says, they will not notice until Christ and Christ alone becomes the center of all that we are. It will not be until the Church awakens and arises to be that which we were birthed at Pentecost to be....risen people, living risen lives. A resurrection church impacting a dead world and culture. The Facebook Church, built on social networks, and yes, self promotion, cannot be that, and won't be that. When Christ, and Christ alone is lifted up, He will draw them to Himself. Nothing else, despite the best of our intentions, ever will.

 

Nothing that I write is a guarantee that being such a people will make a particular fellowship grow. That's always the snare, one I've fallen into many times, of looking for the next big thing to make the church increase. Church A has Christ as the center of everything they do.....and they've grown. Let's make Him the center here too.. then we'll grow as well. It won't work. It will never work. Yet if we're to have an impact on a culture gone completely dark, it can only be by living out what the above quote says. Living in Christ, by the power of His Holy Spirit, and declaring war on everything within us that keeps us from living in that power. The results of that are left to and measured by Him. The one thing that will be sure is that we'll be a people truly of "The Way." His Light will pierce the darkness, and we can be sure the darkness will fight back. The Facebook Church may well get thousands of "likes," and it's "friends" may be many, but they'll be fickle as well....quick to "unfriend" if a like turns to  dislike in some way.......Better we be true friends of Christ. Interested in and part of the only "network" that matters....that of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.


Blessings,

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