Why I'll use social media for Jesus, and why I won't.
You know, every now and then I am reminded at how amazing the community I am a part of is. It’s probably not best to brag all the time, but I’m really left no choice sometimes. We have four congregations, 55 cells, eighteen compassion teams, a leadership team of nearly over 30 people, and 14 design teams (we also have church planting teams, mission teams, and capacity teams to boot)! Our leadership team communicates extensively and meets for three hours monthly. Our cell leaders lead a meeting each week, and attend a training and their Coordinating Group meeting (think: a cell for cell leaders) once a month. Our compassion teams have no rubric and are driven by their passion, and without a ton of money (you can help change that here). And our Design Teams lead every third or fourth week, practicing for the entire day, and planning well in advance. When I look at the scape of leaders we have, I truly am endlessly encouraged and humbled.
The Design Team leaders have been impressing me a lot lately. Andrew is a multi-talented law student, who leads a cell and a design team (someone just told me, “I love it when Andrew leads worship.”) Nate probably never thought he’d lead his friends to worship in public, but he goes against all the odds and does it with a high level of seriousness, talent, and not to mention great taste. And Justin ties it all together—he leads a team and he’s also our public meeting coordinator; he is dutiful, and diligent. A loyal follower of Jesus he is.
They were particularly ambitious a few weeks ago. After their long meetings, the Design Team leaders met over some green tea at a friend’s house to discuss the direction God is moving. We started at about 9 p.m. on a Sunday night! We were evaluating our previous season (we actually evaluate each public meeting over Email each Monday morning) and thinking about what God had in store for the next one. It was a special meeting since we were finishing up Lent and moving into the season of Eastertide.
Eastertide gets me really jazzed, so I was excited to do something with it. Last year, we wrote fifty stories that were about 50 words each. You can see it all here. For the 50 days that pass Easter this year, I wanted to celebrate in a wide way. I wanted to celebrate the resurrection. I want to declare to the world that He is Risen, indeed! Just like Charles Wesley writes: "All creation wakes to say...!" I'm ready. Here are two ways I thought of doing it.
1) Post to your social media websites (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) signs of the Resurrection and tag it with #BeRisen too. Lots of my friends and potential friends use these, so I'd like to be intentional. Wouldn’t it be cool if someone could search for that tag and see all of the great stuff you're doing? It might not be terribly impactful, but it'll be fun, right?
2) Our communications assistant Luke and I are working on an image that we can make stickers, pins, and profile pictures out of. I'd like us to wear them or paste them around town or even to mark our icons with them. They might be a good conversation starter too.
Our diligent leaders thought a little bit harder about this idea than I did. We got into a good discussion. They have good aesthetic and can sniff out artificiality pretty well. The last thing they want us is to fall into the traps of corporate America. To be wasteful. To be commoditized. Or even just to be lame. In fact, a lot of churches do similar things and then just end up being known for stupid campaigns, instead of Jesus.
Our generation is so overly-marketed to, we are weary from all the images and messages that we are supposed to consume. So an incarnational church, one where the Gospel is spread through relationships? That’s real and genuine. The community is missional, and for us, that seems good enough.
Why should we encourage people to use their computers more? Why does your Facebook profile picture matter? Who wears pins anyway?
I think they’re right. But I wanted to give something new a shot. I like the experiment. What if we are the exception to the rule? Is there even a rule? I want to just try to do something and see what happens. Unfortunately, despite how amazing we are (as I’ve mentioned above), our actions are sometimes a little less influential then we wish. In words, one little idea is usually just that.
I don’t want to be devalued because we’re doing something new—people so easily get cut down and criticized. But I don’t want my anxiety to lead me—whether it leads me to be impulsive or reticent. But I do want my actions, all of them, to help people meet Jesus. Circle of Hope is a well-kept secret; and more and more so is the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
So why not try? Take a picture of something beautiful and mark it with #BeRisen. Remind your friends and followers that Jesus is changing the world again. Wear a pin, or alter your carefully manicured profile picture, and have someone ask you a question. It’s a mark that you’re a part of the tribe, a part of the family. Who knows? Maybe someone will want to do it with you.
It might be amazing, but it’ll probably just be an experiment. It might work, and it might not. If it does, let’s keep going for it. If it doesn’t, or appears damaging, we can stop. I’m OK with that level of uncertainty. And I’m thankful I’m surrounded by some amazing people to help me discern it all.