We live in a world of distractions. Of the 7.125 billion people in the world, there are 6.8 billion cell phones, 1.71 billion Facebook users, and 974 million Twitter accounts. Match.com boasts that 40% of singles in the U.S. use online dating services. We live in a world that thrives on the internet.
And there are constantly new ways of quick connections and relationships being invented. The world is rapidly changing and evolving new technologies so that most degrees are obsolete by the time someone graduates.
So in our call to make disciples, in our desire to make meaningful, impactful relationships, how do we reach out in a society that never stands still?
Is it even possible to reach people who refuse to look up from their phones? Take the millennial generation as an example. My generation has been called lazy, addicted to the internet, and entitled and while this can apply to many my age, there is also a growing portion of the age group that says the most important factor in looking for a church is authenticity. We crave human contact that goes beyond the screen. We were designed for relationship.
So how do we marry these two seemingly opposite concepts?
How do we connect with people online and pull them away from their phones, away from the screens that demand their attention and time, and simply engage with them?
First, we recognize we cannot bury our heads in the sand. In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul writes to the church in Corinth explaining how his love for the lost, the love of Christ, allows him to connect to the world around him, by minimizing the differences that cause others to not see the God he serves. Paul goes out in the world and meets them where they are, not asking them to come to him. By ignoring the tools and benefits that come with social media, we lose the ability to reach farther than ever before.
Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are modern tools that are familiar to the church: outreach and connection.
A church social media page broadcasts to the community the values and beliefs to the church, it creates a footprint in cyberspace. Facebook Live, tweets of the latest sermon, photos of Scripture and calls to action: they spark a connection that may not have been there previously.
And this connection ignites interest, it draws people in, it pulls them away from their screen to learn more about what they’re seeing. It invites people to know more about the people behind what they see on their phones and computers. And this allows us to build a relationship that we are called to make.
So text, call, Facebook message, send out a tweet and invite someone for coffee and begin the process of discipleship by meeting people where they are.
“just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved.” – 1 Corinthians 10:33