Alan Witchalls has produced a really helpful infographic on Social Media and Churches which you can download here as a pdf. I would imagine this would be a helpful resource if you also wanted to read this from Tim Chester, parts of which you can find online here and by following the links.
Following on from his recent articles on Facebook, Tim Chester lists 12 guidelines to consider in using social networking.
- Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t say were the people concerned in the room.
- Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t share publicly with your Christian community.
- Ensure your online world is visible to your offline Christian community.
- Challenge one another if you think someone’s online self reflects a self-created identity rather than identity in Christ.
- Challenge one another if you think someone’s online self doesn’t match their offline self.
- Use social networking to enhance real world relationship not to replace them.
- Don’t let children have unsupervised internet access or accept as online friends people you don’t know offline.
- Set limits to the time you spend online and ask someone to hold you accountable to these.
- Set aside a day a week as a technology “Sabbath” or “fast”.
- Avoid alerts (emails, tweets, texts and so on) that interrupt other activities especially reading, praying, worshipping and relating.
- Ban mobiles from the meal table and the bedroom.
- Look for opportunities to replace disembodied (online or phone) communication with embodied (face-to-face) communication.
The final post in Tim Chester’s series on Facebook and social networking can be found here. Again I recommend you read the whole thing for yourself if only for the highly amusing (and highly accurate) paragraph on Facebook being the creation of nerds for the generation of nerds.
If you don’t get that far consider these words Tim closes with:
Think about what you have written and read on your Facebook wall this week. Think about the tweets you have followed this week. Imagine reading them in six months time. I am guessing, but I suspect that most of what is written will be drivel. Trivia. Empty. “Eating egg on toast. Yum.” “On my way to the station.” “Great party last night.” “Jack just fell over. LOL.” “Love the photos. You’re so gorgeous.” Poke. Listen to the prophet Isaiah:
A voice says, “Cry out.”And I said, “What shall I cry?”“All men are like grass,and all their glory is like the flowers of the field.The grass withers and the flowers fall,because the breath of the LORD blows on them.Surely the people are grass.The grass withers and the flowers fall,but the word of our God stands for ever.” (Isaiah 40:6-8)
The Facebook comments wither and the tweets fall, but the word of our God stands for ever.
Tim Chester has been keeping busy writing some really engaging stuff on Facebook. In his next two articles, here and here, Tim deals with the issue of our craving for “digital disincarnation” in cyberspace. Both articles are really worth reading in their entirety.
We were created to be embodied beings but social networking, and for that matter online gaming, encourage our desire to leave the constraints and problems of our actual circumstances and become someone else – freed from my constraints, freed from the reality of the person God has called me to be. Tim says
You are opting for disembodied life over embodied life.
Now disembodied life is easier. But it is less fulfilling, less real and less satisfying.
Embodied life is harder. But it is more fulfilling, more real, more satisfying. It is more substantial – you can touch it, feel it, embrace it!
He concludes with some insightful contrasts between life online and life within the actual, touchy-feely, kick it and it hurts world where God has put you.
Facebook encourages you to live elsewhere. The gospel encourages you to live life here and now.
- You can tend your Farmville farm or you can get an allotment.
- You can catch up with friends on Facebook or you can go out on a cold, dark night to see real friends.
- You can catch up with “Friends” by watching the latest episode on the television or you can serve your neighbours.
- You can build a new city on Sims or you can be the city of God set on a hill with your Christian community.
Here is the test: Am I using Facebook to enhance real world friendships or to replace them?
A while back I posted a link to a couple of articles Tim Chester has written on the good and bad of Facebook. Tim has been busy – you can now find his third and fourth articles on the subject here and here.
The third article addresses the concern that the medium of Facebook (and indeed online social networking in general) is inclined towards projecting positivity. Tim asks,
Is your Facebook self more attractive than your real world self?
The real question is: Am I trying to do self-identity or am I finding identity in Christ? Or, Am I looking for approval from others through my words or approval from God through his gospel word?
Over 700 billion minutes are spent each month on Facebook.
Below are some of the warning signs that Facebook (and twitter, blogs ….) might have a control on us they ought not to:
- Do you check your Facebook page more than once or twice a day?
- Do you spend more than 20 minutes a day on Facebook?
- Do you find it difficult to imagine a day without technology?
- Have you ever read a text or gone online during our gathering?
- Have you stayed up beyond your normal bedtime because you were on Facebook or playing online games?
- Do you use your mobile phone during meals or keep it in the bedroom?