“The great thing about social media was how it gave a voice to voiceless people.” Jon Ronson
Recently, The Gospel Coalition posted one more article on the potential evils of social media: How Social Media Use Can Rival God. Ironically, this was posted by Jen Wilkin, a long-time member of The Village Church. For those of you who are new, it was, and is, social media that has been documenting the serious problems surrounding Matt Chandler and The Village Church. It was TWW, along with Watchkeep, which exposed Matt Chandler and his band of merry pastors and elders who disciplined a woman for divorcing her baby and child porn-living husband. This story got global play as it was picked up by social media. Since that time, I have kept our readers informed on Chandler, such as his cattle ranch, his appearance with Mark Driscoll, and his vow to keep narcissists out of the pulpit in Acts 29. Whoops, I almost forgot about the narcissistic zero comment as well as the pesky lawsuit which I hear is set to go to trial soon.
Before you go to a church for the first time, don’t you think it would be helpful to know about such things before committing your hard-earned time to a church?
Consider how unlike us God is when it comes to mutability. God is unchanging. He is un-influenceable. He never reads a social media post and alters what he thinks or how he acts. He has never once redecorated or changed his fashion sense. The Rock of Ages is eternally the same. He transcends our changing times, governing them with the steady hand of his immutable rule.
We, on the other hand, are open to influence, able to be swayed. Think about your daily life for a minute. How has social media affected it? What did you see there that shaped what’s in your pantry, your medicine cabinet, your workout routine, your wardrobe, or your home decor? Now think about your thought life. What current events or faith discussions have been shaped by what you’ve seen on social media? We cannot help but be shaped by what we look at.
Before the advent of what Wilkin would say is “behavior change due to social media,” there were magazines, books, movies, radio, and television. These helped sway us on what to eat, dress, and think about. This is not a problem brought on by the advent of social media. This is a problem brought on by simply living life since the advent of all media.
For time-bound humans, all time spent on social media is time that will not be spent elsewhere. We dare not tell ourselves that we can afford an unlimited or unbudgeted use of social media, even if we use it in profitable ways. And we dare not ignore its addictive nature. As with all things that promise us we can be like God, its pull will be strong. Those who think soberly about social media use will lash themselves to the masthead of godly wisdom so that their limited time is spent well.
It appears The Gospel Coalition has lost sight of its mission. I searched the TGC website for the words “social media.” It turned up over 2,100 posts! I went through a few of them. There seemed to be a concern about the ability of individuals to post about situations that should be kept on the down-low. One post was written about three years before The Village Church’s fiasco. Church Discipline and Social Media. Can you imagine? The author claims social media unfairly portrayed a church discipline problem. It showed the very 9Marks book and its thoughts which were used to discipline Todd Wilhelm retroactively. When I spoke with the author of this book, he told me that I didn’t know anything about what happened to Todd Wilhelm. That was until I mentioned that Todd Wilhelm was willing to sign a release so they could speak to me about his unjust discipline. Needless to say, transparency would never be allowed to happen with this group.
Within those 2,000 articles, I hope there is one that admits that TGC is one big, fat social media platform that asks for money, highlights conferences that cost lots of money, and presents celebrity pastors whose books are pushed. This group hopes to influence people to spend money to buy all the right books. Can you imagine reading everything they tout? One would have to spend most of one’s day hooked up to audio playing all of those fabulous books that proclaim correct theology…until they don’t. For example, this group loved Mark Driscoll and pushed his posts, books, etc. Suddenly, Driscoll disappeared from the listing with nary an editorial warning.
One post I found amusing was Join Us for a ‘Social Sanity’ Book Club. The author spent some time regaling us with her decision to cut all ties with social media. She had time to make lemonade and do some laundry. (I’m not kidding.) She spent the rest of the post discussing a book she wrote with other women. With a grin on my face, I read:
Second, we realized there was far more to say than could ever fit into a book. As we went along, we kept uncovering new ideas and analogies and insights.
So after we crammed as much as we could into the pages, I sat down with each author to talk more about the ideas in her chapter and how they played out in her real-life Instagram stories or Facebook posts.
I’m thrilled to invite you to join us for these conversations. Here are the details:
👩💻 As the videos release, you can find them here: socialsanitybook.com.
⏰ Each video is about 45 minutes long.
☝️We’ll release one each Thursday, beginning July 14.
📆 We’ll end after nine weeks. (One week for each chapter and the afterword.)
You’re welcome to listen on your own, or you could watch with a group of friends, neighborhood moms, or church ladies. You certainly don’t need to have the book to reap some benefits, but it might be helpful, because nearly everything here is new content, stepping off where the book ends.
Sarah is a nice woman who wants to do the right thing. However, she appears to have traded one social media engagement for another social media “thing.” Frankly, I got tired thinking about the book, the audios, getting women together, etc.
Why I love social media, and I will not quit
- Whenever I have a question on anything like how long to cook a 1-inch pork chop or what is a Hutterite to did Calvin invent the infamous TULIP, I can find quick answers on social media.
- I have made some dear friends on social media. One pastor has been a source of support, helping me when a person sent a letter to my church demanding my excommunication.
- I love the people who visit my blog. I wished some lived closer, but we can help one another as we deal with abuse in the church.
- I can help expose abuse in the church. I have been doing so since 2009. Some, like Christa, have done so for decades. Do you think the discussion in the SBC suddenly arose a couple of years ago? The discussions on social media, along with the exposés, gradually pushed this into the public’s view.
- I love my Air Pods Pro. It allows me to listen to podcasts while I walk my two miles every day. I’ve been doing this for over two months now. I used to hate walking because it got boring after a while. Not so any longer. I listen to shows on theology and history. I come back smarter every day due to social media.
- I follow the social media site of Mid Atlantic Pug Rescue. I am grateful for what they do for lost and poorly treated pugs dogs. My last two pugs, Buttercup and Holly (aka Slant), came from this group.
- I follow the Tunnel to Towers Foundation and am amazed at the smart homes they build for seriously wounded service people.
- I read church websites in depth. I have learned how to understand a church by what they write about themselves. I also love to read church covenants. Then, I write about them.
- I love the many people I have met through Twitter and TWW. My world has opened and expanded.
- I love to read reviews for things I buy for my home. The most laugh-out-loud reviews I have ever read are the ones under this banana slicer on Amazon. You must read this.
- And sometimes, I love to laugh or watch a fantastic video on YouTube. Please watch these Lebanese women who are showing who are strong and beautiful women making a difference in their culture.
Where I don’t spend time on social media.
- I don’t do Facebook primarily because I don’t like to write about things like my vacations or my latest recipe.
- I’m not particularly eager to write about what is happening with my kids and their spouses. It feels too much like an invasion of privacy. We have our own family messaging and love using it to make each other laugh or to keep each other in our thoughts and prayers.
- I don’t spend time reading about other people and their vacations. I don’t have the time.
Hmmm, it looks like the pros outweigh the cons for me.
Do I ever waste time online? Yes, and on many other things as well, and I bet everyone in TGC does as well.
Things I have wasted time on:
- Binge watched the first season of Stranger Things.
- I stayed up until 2 AM reading an Agatha Christie novel.
- I lost several hours looking into abuse in the Hasidic community of NY.
- I have obsessed over reading reviews for the washer and dryer I need to get because my really old washer is making really bad clanking sounds and my dryer is beginning to leave curious black marks on things. I’m totally consumed and tormented. Do I really need wi-fi in my washer? May this preoccupation end soon…
We are cooking the books to make our rules the best rules for looking like a good Christian.
I learned this from a previous pastor. Many of us want to present ourselves as looking a little more spiritual than the next guy. I would say that it is impossible for most people to disengage from social media. I have no intention of ever disconnecting. I am glad that I live in an era that gives me access to a world of knowledge and people. Also, unlike others, I am able to engage in social media, make the bed, unload the dishwasher and make lemonade as well.
There are some issue that I haven’t touched upon. I didn’t write about kids spending too much time on their phones, etc. That is a problem that’s been around for a long time, and it is up to parents to help them negotiate those traps. I didn’t write about the dangers of pornography. It is something we have written about- especially child pornography and the reality of men and women trafficked in that industry.
The times have changed. Disconnecting is not going to be a reality for most people. Even the author of the Sanity Book Club is using social media to tell us that she is disconnecting and then reconnecting. We are a mixed-up mess, aren’t we?
Are any of you disconnecting? How is it going? If I don’t hear from you, you have probably truly disconnected. I wish you well and am sorry you never will read the banana slicer review.
What about those of you who haven’t disconnected…why not?
Sorry about my meandering thoughts. I just needed to get this off my chest. Feel free to post humorous or encouraging links to YouTube videos or websites. I’m in the mood for a good laugh!