Monday, February 09, 2009

On Sunday....and mixing with Christians and not!

Well, as Quilly said in comments, the service that I thought might just have a few folk at had over a hundred people along and was joyful and filled with praise. Sadly, the loss of puppeteers was a disappointment to a few, but on the whole those who made the effort really appreciated and enjoyed it. The worship was uplifting, the fellowship was heartwarming and the feeling of being together as the people of God was quite overwhelming.

It was encouraging to see how many had braved quite difficult conditions (much of the snow, and snow melt lying on the roads had re-frozen overnight making some bits very exciting indeed) to come to Church. I was moved to see the cross section of those who came, from different villages, different ages (we had four generations of one family at the service), different backgrounds - with various levels of commitment to Church!

So a tiring, but worthwhile experience.

This morning, in between bits of admin and tidying, preparing assembly for this afternoon and writing emails, I have been tweeting and exploring the self proclaimed 'Christian Alternative to Facebook' called Faithout. I have signed up, so if anyone is joining please add me!

But it raises a question I often find myself asking. What value is there in having exclusively Christian online stuff? I mean, I understand the value of being able to get hold of Christian resources, and read Christian blogs, and to contact other Christians - but surely part, in fact a major part, the defining part, of being Christians is to be 'out there' (some of us are more 'out there' on sooooo many levels :-) ) rather than creating 'holy huddles' or 'christian cliques' or 'enlightened enclaves' or.... actually that's enough of that. I suspect you get the drift!

Sometimes our Christian groups seem to be protection against the nitty-gritty hard work of actually getting on with sharing our faith. It can be, or rather it is, uncomfortable to be noticably Christian, much easier is the 'blend into the background option'. So if we are taking part in this great social media/networking revolution, are we shooting ourselves in the foot by creating a Christian alternative, rather than 'mixing it up' with all the grungy, earthy, heathen, normal types on the rest of the web? I use the word heathen with a certain sense of irony, by the way...

Perhaps we need to gather in these enclaves to build us up and prepare us to tackle the difficulties in the rest of our lives? Perhaps its just good to make more Christian friends? But if they become a substitute for real interaction with those outside the Church then sure they become the antidote to the great commission? Though it could be said that much social media interaction is a substitute for real world interaction - hopefully not in my case, I must go out to do assembly now! The internet verses interaction in reality debate must wait for another time.


jeff said...

It's also a temptation to assume that since I do online social interaction that I don't have to pursue actual social interaction. I've heard of some who said they don't do ministry because their blog is one. Hmm, not sure that's the deal fully. Just a thought.

Melli said...

Wellllll.... I feel like my BLOG is taking up quite ENOUGH on-line time and that if I were to engage in Facebook OR Faithout OR Twitter or anything else, I would truly NOT interact with real people anymore! It is CRAZY the amount of time that just keeping the blog takes! Soooo... I "just say no!"

Dr.John said...

We need a place to gather with other Christians so we can go out and be what we are supposed to be, lights in a dark world.

quilly said...

There are people who spend all day, every day in our church. Are they hiding from the real world, or charging their batteries for their next foray among the heathens? Only they know.

Jonathan Rowe said...

When I was rector of a small parish in rural Newfoundland, I used to get a lot of people who'd come home to get married or to 'get the baby done'. After that, they'd head back to the mainland and lose almost all contact with the church.
When I joined Facebook, I started to get all kinds of parents requesting me as a friend. It was great because otherwise, I'd have little to no contact with some pretty great people who had little to no other church ties.
Could I have used those networks better? Probably. But would they have joined all-Christian social networks? Almost definitely not. Some of the best ministry we do is in the public square, and in this day and age, that can include the digital square.