Friday, 24 May 2019

Online as it is in Heaven, Sample Chapter "Testimonies"


I’m convinced we’ll follow anyone online. We actually follow people who open boxes on YouTube. Un-boxing videos are massively popular for one of the most mundane things of the product purchasing equation. And while we’re on the topic how many fail channels do you follow or subscribe too? No judgement here watching a good prank or someone getting hit in the face with a yoga ball is funny. And I won’t apologize for that.
But we follow people online for the least logical and simplest of reasons. Yet one of our deepest needs is to be known. In a world where everything posted can be edited and manicured to look as clear and as sparkly as an Instagram filter, our need to be known and accepted could never be greater. Which brings me to the topic of testimonies.
Testimonies have always been shared in the presence of other Christian’s in my life. I have seen dozens of them, spoken at baptisms before the plunge, I’ve seen plenty at camps before the last night tear-fest following a Hillsong worship set.
But I gotta ask.
Why aren’t we posting our testimonies online in a video format?
I mean I watch a guy and his boosted board and custom Ray-Ban’s, religiously with my wife every time he posts on Youtube. We don’t warm the pews as much as our nightly seat with Casey Neistat. Online services have really saved us here. But, we crave stories from the internet. We all have our favourite place to find them too. Most of us cling to YouTube but with online video being added or simply stock on most social media networks the small piece of tech with your data plan will soon replace the large box with your parents’ satellite subscriptions. And the world knows it.
Nobody watches a TV anymore when the commercial comes on. Or looks at billboards when we have 4G or the headrest DVD players in our minivan to view. We don’t read shampoo bottles in the bathroom or awkwardly stare at strangers in the mall while our spouse’s shops. We are always on our phones and online video ranks as near the top in the scale of importance.
It’s a way for people to hear a story and we all crave stories.
Is your story something that can exist on the internet? Can it correlate your experience with others? Can you post your voice in a world where everyone isn’t only able but invited to post their voice?
What would it look like for the church to begin taking the power of online video seriously for their testimonies? A church constantly showing the online world that can find it, what Jesus is doing in their midst.
Imagine a church of 400 people all posting video testimonies with the same search terms on Good Friday, a viral ministry of how Jesus changes lives all at once. The reach and scope could be bigger than any crusade tent ministry to date. The next big revival of the church might be in the top bar of a blue app, near mindlessly accessed for the hourly fix of stories we all crave.
But instead of a yoga ball to the head, a saviour can go to the cross. And through a saint going to their rear-facing camera, a sinful world can see redemption.
Our testimonies cannot just be the things we say pre-dunk in the baptistery. There is too much power in the work of Jesus in our lives not to take advantage of how deep and wide the internet can go.  If we speak them at baptism because of the need for a public declaration of our love for Christ, then online is the public we need to share them with. There is nothing more public that putting something on the World Wide Web. Don’t believe me? Ask the latest celebrity how public their leaked nudes went when they trusted someone to keep them safe. Our salvation is orders of magnitude more valuable as a shared video than any starlet’s mistake with a selfie.
So if we mean what we say when we confess Jesus as Lord, we need to post that online if we can.
The newest version of any smartphone, something present in nearly every reader of this books pocket, suggests that we can.