There is a growing phenomenon taking place that has the potential to radically change the face of the church in America. Social media has invaded the church. Or to put it another way, the church has gone viral. More and more churches today have a presence on the internet. Websites, Facebook pages, Tweets, instant messaging and more are being used by the church to further their ministries and keep in touch with their congregations. Larger churches are now offering church online as an option to the traditional church-meeting-in-a-building. This is not your father’s church.
Before we dismiss this new trend as wrong, misguided, or (you supply the adjective), it would be good to remember several things. First, for those who routinely reject anything new or different in the church with the rational, you won’t find THAT in the New Testament, let me remind you that many things churches have done cannot be found in the New Testament. Nowhere will you find mention of Sunday School, VBS, bus ministries, Sunday evening services, youth groups, Christian camps, Awana, pianos, organs, nurseries etc., etc.. Not only are they not mentioned in the New Testament but all of these ministries that have served the church well are rather recent innovations. The church got along without them for almost two thousand years. How, we will never know!
Secondly, many of the recent avenues that churches are using, enable them to reach more people with the gospel than ever before. Isn’t that what it’s all about? Why should social media be off-limits to the gospel? Let’s use it for all it’s worth but for the right reasons.
Having said that, there is a danger to this growing phenomenon. The danger is that we will redefine the church from the New Testament model to something of our own liking. The internet can never replace the church – nor should it. Dr. Albert Mohler said it well when he wrote:
Research indicates that a significant number of Christians are tempted to allow these technologies to serve as a substitute for participation in a local church. This is deadly and dangerous for believers.
Christ clearly intends for his people to be gathered together into congregations. The fellowship of the saints is a vital means of grace for the disciple of Christ. We can be enriched by means of listening to sermons online and by delving deeply into the ocean of knowledge found within Christian websites, but these cannot replace the authenticity that comes only by means of the local church and its ministry.
Believers need the accountability found only within the local church. We need to hear sermons preached by flesh-and-blood preachers in the real-time experience of Christian worship. We need to confess the faith together through the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. We need to confess our sins and declare forgiveness by the blood of Christ together. We need to be deployed for service in Christ’s name together. You can read his entire article here.
Don’t miss a key word in his statement: together. The church is the Body of Christ together. We come together for worship; together for fellowship; together for teaching; together to celebrate the ordinances; together to encourage; together to pray. The Apostle Paul put it best when he said for the body is one (1 Corinthians 12:12). It implies a unity, not only of belief but of togetherness. Apparently part of the problem in Corinth was with people saying we don’t need you in our body (see vss 21ff). We’ve turned that around to say we don’t need the body. I can do it all via the internet in the comfort of my home. But that’s not the church. To put it succinctly – we need each other.
Let’s use social media for all it’s worth. But let’s not use it to replace the church of Jesus Christ.
Stay in the Word