Monday, 27 May 2019

I just un-followed 5000 Christian Twitter accounts, And here's what it taught me about the church online.

From church's to pastor's to seminaries, about 4 years ago I followed every Christian I could find on Twitter via a simple set of search terms.

Here were the terms:

(pastor. youth pastor, church, bible, seminary, bible school, Christian, preacher)

And after about a month of mindlessly scrolling search results, I built a solid cross-section of the Christian Twitterverse, and what I found was frankly sad.

My daily feed was soon bombarded with aggressive and politically charged rhetoric. Everything from claiming that one pundit was a saint to slamming the others as a shill. From what can only be described as hate towards one direction of the political spectrum to what can only be viewed as ignorance from the other. All from pastors.

I was kept up to date on the status of every major sports genre in North America and the respective pseudo political discourse that ensued was what you would expect from a jersey-clad fan from the stands of a stadium. From pastors.

I saw Seminaries and Private Christian schools doing a great job of showing that their programs were available but doing nothing to show how they were fixing some of the moral and logistic problems of public education.

I saw churches go years between posts, and pastors when investigated.

I saw a select few accounts of broken and dejected pastors journey their way from a loss of a ministry position online instead of with counsel and friends to help them with the pain of having one's calling challenged.

But most of all I saw what happens when there isn't a theology behind an action.

Having a theology of the internet isn't about having a bible verse that defends your last political or sports-related tweet. But rather knowing why twitter exists and is popular and why the gospel is relevant there. These go hand in hand and don't ever flirt with the commoditization of sports or faith. Twitter is a public platform. It's as close to an online pulpit as we're likely to see. It was birthed in an era of 140 characters or less, which you might note almost every popular bible verse fits into. But these Bible verses that get posted on Twitter are disturbingly similar to the daily Bible verse of the Youversion Bible app. As if the ease of being able to share your faith was as simple as the like button at the bottom of a Facebook post. Or worse, has become as automated as the vanity electric cars now driving down the highways of select cities.

We have shamefully automated the faith online, marked even more so by the slew of celebrity pastors who all use the same Twitter bot to respond to follows as if no one wouldn't know that a preset script was speaking to them. Or compare that script from one megachurch pastor to another. As if the way a Twitter bot flirts with lying as it impersonates a pastor online, isn't exactly how a pastor flirts with a congregant before being caught in adultery later.

The church online, specifically Twitter is a Jesus fish out of water stuck in a desert of irrelevant posts with a noticeable confusion on how the platform could be used to evangelize and disciple users on it.

And I can't help but wonder how our activity online will be scrutinized in heaven. Not just in our shameful use of porn or thieving downloads or slanderous gossip in the comment section. But in our cowardly wasting of the talents that God gave us when he ordained before the foundation of the world, a social network as vast and far-reaching as Twitter.

Are we burying those talents in our sports affiliation and political divide, only to receive the lack of interest we garnered when we did not pursue our master's interests with our Twitter handles?

Or are we making sure we see His will being done, Online as it is in Heaven?

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