(This is post #5 in our new Manhood and Technology Series. You can read the prior posts here: Manhood and Technology || Introducing a New Series, the Two Views of Smartphones article, the Why I Kissed Social Media Goodbye article, and the Brothers, Do Not Be Overcome Article.)
By Mathew Sims
I work in an industry that thrives on technology and innovation. I have to know about the latest innovations in my field and be comfortable conversing about them. Daily I see all the opportunities and pitfalls of technology and social media. Seeing these, I’m convinced technology and social media must be used by Christians to glorify God. So here’s why I gave technology and social media a chance.
First, tech and social media provide unique opportunities for world missions. The Church’s mission is to teach and baptize peoples from all nations. As one example of the immense benefits of technology, in an article entitled “Tribal Technology,” John Dyer describes the immediate impact Apple’s innovations over the last decade plus have had on spreading the gospel in closed countries. Thousands of music files and ebooks can be stored on a single device or on a memory card. Gigabytes of biblical resources can be smuggled into countries with no detection.
On top of that, social media allows missionaries to easily stay in touch with family and their sending churches. This provides critical encouragement and edification for those working in people groups who have no gospel witness.
Second, technology and social media provide unique opportunities for building and maintaining relationships. I have used Twitter to meet and engage with Christians all over the United States and the UK. I have been blessed with many friendships through these encounters. I attended Together for the Gospel in 2012 and spent time there with Christian brothers I met online and plan to do the same this year at the CBMW pre-conference and T4G.
I write weekly on a personal blog and have shared on several occasions my struggle with depression. I’ve offered encouragement and have received encouragement from other people who read my story and have similar stories. Social media especially provides wider reach for people to share stories like my own.
Also, I have used Facebook to stay in contact with my friends and family. I grew up as a Navy brat and have lived in multiple locations. Facebook allows me to stay connected with friends who don’t live in my immediate area and also my family who most lively in California (I live in SC). Social media should never replace flesh and blood interactions but it can be a tool used to stay connected to flesh and blood people we love.
Google Hangout is another social media innovation that can be leveraged for good. It’s basically a video conferencing tool, but it’s ease of use and immediate universality (I mean who doesn’t have a Google account?) sets it apart. It could be used for talking with family members while out of town (something I’ve used it for). It would allow men who travel to still participate and lead family worship. It could also be used to facilitate gospel conversations; ranging from accountability, reading groups, prayer time. I’ve used it to get groups of friends who have moved away together for mutual edification and all of the above.
I will briefly mention that we should be always conscience of the amount of time we invest in social media versus our family and our immediate church context. We must understand our priorities. Also, as social media users, we should encourage those we develop relationships with online to be invested in local churches. It’s great to receive and give encouragement via online interactions, but that transparency, accountability, and relationship should be developed at the local church level as the frontline. I would also encourage those who use social media heavily to consider taking deliberate Sabbaths away from it.
Third, technology and social media provide opportunities for deepening our personal and family worship. We already discussed the benefits of having such vast biblical tools at our fingertips. That not only benefits the global church, but it can and should benefit individual families. As men we are tasked with sharing the gospel in our homes. That can sometimes be confusing or daunting. But technology should help eliminate some of those issues. Let me give you an example of what I mean. In my home, my wife and I are musically challenged. It’s not that we don’t enjoy singing; we just don’t do it very well. My two oldest girls love singing. We use Spotify as a tool during family worship to sing some of our favorite songs on key. We like songs like: “The Gospel Song,” “All I Have is Christ,” “Amazing Grace,” or “There is a Fountain.” You also have useful catechism tools like the New City Catechism App and Christian Creeds & Reformed Confessions App for teaching Biblical truth systematically.
For Bible reading there’s a variety of options, but the most social option would be the YouVersion App. It has the widest variety of Bible reading plans and allows you to comment, share, or create notes. Also, Facebook’s group functionality can be used with good impact for Bible and devotional reading groups. It can be a great place to share meditations, ask questions, or provide prayer requests. A community group I was involved with used a Facebook group to do all of the above and to keep the members informed of activities and emergencies. Even as the group members have cycled to other groups, the Facebook group is still active and is regularly used as a private way to share among close friends.
These are a few of the ways technology and social media can be used to glorify God, but these aren’t the only ones. As those who understand what it means to be made in the image of God, feel the weight of God’s declaration of goodness on creation, and take His mandate to have dominion seriously, Christians should be willing and ready to leverage technology and social media for the kingdom of God. It’s doesn’t mean discernment isn’t needed. I echo the concerns Adam Groza brought up in his article. It doesn’t mean there are no perversions. The epidemic of easy access porn is just one of many. But we shouldn’t be afraid of these things. We shouldn’t be unrealistic. But it is important to understand technological advances in terms of the gospel. The technology and the creative genius it took to create it are components of God’s good creation—image bearers fulfilling the creation mandate to have dominion and work. As with all parts of God’s creation, some people pervert even the best things. That shouldn’t hinder Christians from using technology and social media wisely to glorify God.
Mathew Sims is a husband and father of three residing in Simpsonville, South Carolina. He attends Downtown Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Greenville, South Carolina. You can follow Mathew Sims on Twitter @Graceforsinners or visit his blog Grace For Sinners.
The CBMW National Conference is April 8, 2014 in Louisville, KY. Speakers include John Piper, David Platt, Albert Mohler, and more!
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