Has the use of Social Media by the church created a problem?

Recently i wrote a piece on the significance of the audience who reads and receives the social media updates from conferences, and how this creates a new stage for the action of the conference to occur, its here. I wonder whether the ongoing news of ministries and projects within the christian circles causes a relative silence for those projects who are and have to remain invisible. After all its easy to take a photo of a christian standing at the front of a stage and put it on twitter, or rows of chairs in a conference hall and proclaim #waitingforJesus or #Godishere.

I wonder whether the ongoing news of ministries and projects within the christian circles causes a relative silence for those projects who are and have to remain invisible. After all its easy to take a photo of a christian standing at the front of a stage and put it on twitter, or rows of chairs in a conference hall and proclaim #waitingforJesus or #Godishere. But that means that other work has comparative silence.

But what of the untweetable ministries – the silent ones, or the mission with people where people respect their anonymity, their privacy and not claim them as a triumph for a ministry.. ‘Look at me serving theses ___  people’

Yet because of having social media, the pressure is there, to put up the evidence of what it is- the show and tell of ministry – so that people know what it is you’re doing. I dont think there is pressure where there shouldnt be, but can social media of ministries, of projects, of impact be borderline boasting at times? maybe.

At least with social media and person centered uploading there can be the control of what is uploaded, ive been in situations where other people have written articles in newspapers about a youthwork ministry, and used terms like ‘is about to work with the disengaged, disadvantaged young people in this town’ – well not only cover blown but also young people being judged by the church before id even met them. So, the media can be an issue for the print stuff too.

But the desire is to publicise ministries – because churches, dioceses, and affiliation all create many opportunities for publicity and content to be needed, from website articles, magazines to twitter feeds. So the desire for content could be said drives the need for publicity, and the need for publicity might in turn shape the nature of the work, and shape the view of the ministry amongst those affected, and receivers of it. The pressure to publicise is rife, maybe it needs to be challenged. Telling people about our good works might not be good in itself. Can the church do something good and remain silent about it.  Can we think ethically about social media sharing? or is the pressure too great? – can we think theologically too?

Some types of ministry, and mission should be kept quiet, and maybe the church should hide more of its good works, being content that the local recipients, conversations and faith is a secret treasure. Their change is not public consumption, or a model to be replicated. or a ministry to be shared. The most vulnerable is only a change in 1 person, its hardly tweetable compared to 1000’s, yet numbers tell of one story, silent stories are treasures of gold.

For me, its easier to communicate the processes of youthwork than the actions or results of it, where youth ministry might have gatherings, events and discernable photo opportunities. The work im involved in at Durham Youth For Christ is the small scale, regular youth club, the conversations with young people, the craft club, the chat on the streets on detached, with young people, whom i and the staff arent claiming as benefactors of ‘our’ ministry, because they are people, and yet moments of change, of transformation happen in the twilights, in the untweetable, unsharable moments. People might not know about it, because well, thats the space of the still small voice. It would be easy to create an event, or conference or service for young people and live tweet or

It would be easy to create an event, or conference or service for young people and live tweet or facechat it- but that kind of event would be less about the integrity of building relationships with young people and a need to  create a gathering for the sake of being able to publicise a ministry.

The unsharable moments of mission that are transforming lives – lets not forget them in the clamber of the loudest voices and photographable statuses, or article responding ministries and controversies.

(You can find out more about Duham Youth For Christ in the link above, and also use the links to donate to the organisation, please do so, it is desperate for funds at the moment- and help is very much appreciated so its work amongst young people in county durham can continue)

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