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5 Reasons Why the Church Must Engage the World With Social Media

As we develop a driving philosophy of why to take up the mantle of social media engagement, it’s important to understand that the purposes for engaging the culture this way are the same purposes that led the church to engage with the world before the Internet ever existed.

1. We engage because the world needs Jesus.

Paul declared he would “try to find common ground with everyone, doing everything I can to save some” (1 Cor. 9:22). I don’t think for a second Paul would ever have compromised the integrity of the theology he had carefully built while writing nearly half of the New Testament, but I do believe he was willing to adapt his communication style to any audience in order to be clear about the gospel. Paul’s willingness to adapt to his surroundings was the outflow of a heart that broke for people who did not yet know Jesus.

The world needs Jesus, and the very people we want to reach with the gospel are involved in social media—especially those in the youngest generations. They’re tweeting. They’re Facebooking. They’re Instagramming. We can’t expect a lost world to come to our turf on our terms to hear our message. We must actively engage them with the hope that is in us. If we hope to share Jesus with them, we need to go where they already are.

2. We engage because the conversation happens with or without us.

Right now, people are talking about big issues. Dialogue is ongoing when it comes to politics, economics, science, medicine, sports, technology and religion. In most areas of life, someone is leading the conversation that’s happening, and it isn’t waiting for us to catch up. The conversation is happening whether we’re a part of it or not.

In past centuries, Christians have been willing to lead the conversation about art, science and social issues. But within the last half-century, our tendency has been to retreat into our Christian bubbles where everything feels comfortable to us. If we’re honest, we’d rather spend time talking to other Christians about the Christian life than risk engaging in conversations with people who disagree with us or have tough questions we can’t answer. It takes courage to engage, but engage we must if we are to lead the conversation about Jesus forward.

3. We engage because God should be glorified in every space.

I remember Rick Warren talking about a conversation he had with John Piper about Twitter. At the time, Piper had created a Twitter account but Rick had not. They spoke at an event together, and Rick questioned Piper about embracing a medium that, in Rick’s thinking at the time, dumbed down communication and fostered narcissism. Piper responded that it is the responsibility of Christians to fill every space with the glory of God—even the online space. That conversation pushed Rick into tweeting, and now he is one of the most influential church figures using Twitter today.

In every space where people are talking, the glory of God should be evident. His light should be shined into the darkest corners of society. It stands to reason that if the role of Twitter and other social networks is to empower everyday people with a voice, then we should certainly take advantage of the opportunity to use that voice to point people to the glory of God.

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Brandon Cox is Lead Pastor of Grace Hills Church, a new church plant in northwest Arkansas. He also serves as Editor and Community Facilitator for Pastors.com and Rick Warren's Pastor's Toolbox and was formerly a Pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. In his spare time, he offers consultation to church leaders about communication, branding, and social media. He and his wife, Angie, live with their two awesome kids in Bentonville, Arkansas.