I’m Quitting Facebook to Join Faithbook Because My WWJD Bracelet Told Me To

The end of the age has come.  No, not the rapture, but the end of Facebook.  There I said it… finished.  As of today, I am shutting down all Facebook communication.

“Why?” you ask.  I’ll gladly answer.

I’m convinced that the God revealed in Jesus desires that Christians avoid becoming convoluted by the world.  We Christians often look more like “world-lians” and today I’m done representing the wrong team.  As evidence of my sincerity, its “goodbye Facebook” and hello “Faithbook.”

I can hear it now.  Some of you are saying… “but Kurt, you have thousands of friends on Mark Z’s dorm room creation.  There’s no way you’re serious!”  Don’t believe me, check out this screenshot from my MacBook (Maybe some good soul will produce GodBook?):

That’s right.  Faithbook.  I was on Facebook a couple days back and came across an ad for Faithbook (probably the best marketing strategy ever to use the secular competition’s ad system to track visitors! Spiritual war = won!).  I followed said link to above referenced site and felt the need to ask – WWJD?… time for a sanctified social swap! So, you’re all invited to join me in the online social network of the faithful few.  It may not have all the special features of Facebook, but it gives us Christians the opportunity to have a safe, de-secularized, prayer-filled, alternative.

Ok, I’ve gone on far enough.

This post contains a couple of errors.  No, I will not be closing my Facebook account any time soon.  And although I believe that the intentions of the founders and users of Faithbook may be fine (my goal is not to mock them as I am confident that their motives were pure*), I want to use Faithbook (like its predecessor, GodTube) as an example of a trend in Christian culture that needs to change.

Christian culture is known for its alternatives.  Think of alternatives in popular culture.  Instead of Dr. Pepper, you can drink Dr. Thunder.  Instead of sugar, there’s Splenda.  Problem… the alternatives never measure up to the original.  Yet in Christian culture, we love to propagate alternativesI want to suggest that there is an element of value in designing an alternative culture as Christ-followers.  In theory, the “Christian sub-culture” is not bad.  Unfortunately, Christian culture often expresses the wrong kind of alternative.

In the New Testament, we’re given a picture of the Kingdom people of God who organize themselves around an alternative king, namely Jesus.  The greatest alternative is not a second-rate imitation of things from the popular culture, but rather a community (many communities in local contexts) who together live in a radically different way – the way of Jesus.

The kingdom of God ought to be known as a counter cultural contrast-society, not an “almost as good as the popular culture” or “safe from the evils of all things secular” bubble.  Scot McKnight says it well: “The kingdom of God, in short compass, is the society in which the will of God is established to transform all of life.”**  Some transformative life-signs include:

  • Love of God
  • Love of neighbors within and outside of the covenant community
  • Seeking the welfare of all people
  • Defying hatred and greed
  • Feeding the hungry
  • Resisting the lure of the empire in all its forms
  • Clothing the naked
  • Bearing each others’ burdens
  • Choosing self-sacrifice over the sword
  • Redistribution of resources for the purposes of social uplift
  • Wonderful marriages
  • Love of enemies
  • Sexual purity
  • Healthy conflict / resolution in the midst of conflict
  • Learning more about the Scriptures as an open-minded community of disciples
  • Healings, signs, wonders
  • Justice for the marginalized
  • Dignifying every human person

Imagine if these were the things that the church was actually known for.  Do you think that the popular culture would take notice?  Do you think that as the church follows Jesus that perhaps the world might follow the church? I think this is the kind of “alternative” that the New Testament envisions.

So, let’s determine to show pop-culture what a true Christian counter-culture has to offer.  We don’t need to create second-rate alternatives because the Kingdom of God is far better! Guided as communities empowered by the Holy Spirit, fresh possibilities will come to life.  As a result, the rest of humanity will come knocking on our doors, begging for what our contrast-society of New Creation can do to make the world a better place.  May this be the mark of the church in our generation!

 

 


* To anyone who has used “Faithbook.” Please do not feel that I believe you to be in error or that your use of such means that you are not a great person… because you are!!!!  In fact, I am currently wearing a Christian bracelet of some sort and indulge in many things from the Christian sub-culture.  I am critiquing as someone who is part of the family, not attempting to judge you as inferior.  I only use “Faithbook” because it is a clear illustration of a bigger kingdom point. Who knows, perhaps its FB integration makes for some cool features?

** Scot McKnight, A Community Called Atonement, Living Theology (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2007), 9.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jamesmichael7 James-Michael Smith

    Now of you just get off Twitter and get on Christian Chirp, you’ll be a TRUE believer…

    http://journeydeeper.blogspot.com/2009/11/copying-christians-firing-of-about.html  (My friend @kevinlock takes this one to task in similar fashion)

    • http://twitter.com/UTKevDawg Kevin Lock

      @thekevinlock ;-) I was wondering where the traffic came from today. Great post up there too.

  • David Warkentin

    “The kingdom of God ought to be known as a counter cultural contrast-society, not an “almost as good as the popular culture” or “safe from the evils of all things secular” bubble.”

    Great line!

  • Anonymous

    Great points, Kurt. I must admit that I have never owned a WWJD bracelet ans tend to shun Christian bumperstickers. I agree that Christians should provide an alternative, contrast and counter culture yet so many want to copy the latest trend and not provide anything original. This is what disturbs me, we Christians claim to have the Spirit of creation residing in us yet produce that which is second-rate. As a community we should raise the bar culturally, encourage those with artistic gifts and be honest if it is ‘second-rate.’ I have artistic leanings but would be hesitant to share some things I’ve created because they would not be understood. I also want to know if they can be better. I believe culture can be transformed but the Christian community should not stoop to just copy whats trendy. Just my 2 cents.

    • http://blog.rrchapman.us/ Bob Chapman

      All drivers make a mistake one day. So, do you want to show off your faith to that person who you just cut off?

      • http://www.facebook.com/jeffrey.w.roop Jeffrey W Roop

        That’s why I have no Christian bumper stickers  on my car. Don’t want to be that ‘jerk’ Christian. Plus, Christian bumper stickers make for some bad messages and theology. 

  • Anonymous

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE your list of what the Church should be known for! That there alone was worth the price of admission. 

  • http://simuleustisetpecator.wordpress.com/ Craig Falvo

    My seminary Ethics professor used to say that the when the church tries to go up against secular culture by providing alternatives, it usually fails.  Let’s face it, some things, the secular culture just does better.

  • http://www.dodifferent.org.uk David Bunce

    Thanks Kurt – some great thoughts there. I think you’re right that it is an area we need to be reflective about. Some thoughts: 

    1) A lot of the time Christian output that goes head to head with the mainstream art and technology market just ends up being a pale imitation. Faithbook and GodTube being two examples, about 90% of modern worship music CDs being a second. If we want to say compelling things about art (and I think we should want to if we follow a Creator God), we need to bring our own inspirations and values to the table rather than just try and reinvent the wheel badly.

    2) The Christian calling, as you so rightly hint at, is to be salt and light in the situations where people are and to bring God’s love and Kingdom values into that situation.

    3) Just because we are part of something, it doesn’t mean we should be uncritical. I think there are a lot of questions we would want to pose of social media: for instance, we would want to question the value of internet relationships as opposed to face to face contact, we should want to ask questions about how people present/project themselves into the digital sphere and, in a world where those who are witty/funny/creative end up being influential online, we would want to ask questions about what happens to the lonely who don’t get all the following.

    So yes, we should definitely resist the temptation to create a weak spin-off. But we also shouldn’t be going with the grain without question.

  • http://blog.rrchapman.us/ Bob Chapman

    Johann Sebastian Bach was so devoted in his Christianity that he put “in the name of Jesus” and “to God alone be the glory” in Latin on everything he composed. This included Bach’s secular works. 

    Serious students of composing and performance study Bach’s copious output for inspiration, example, and sheer joy. This goes for non-classical musicians, too. For example, “A Whiter Shade of Pale” by Procol Harum has inspiration in Bach’s chorale prelude on “Wachet Auf” as well as what we commonly call “Air on a G String.” 

    Bach’s work inspires non-Christians to study him. 

    While there are Christians like Michael Omartian that are well-respected in the secular world, how often do we see the world rushing to study the works of notable Christians for inspiration? Aside from some notable (dead) writers of mystery and fantasy, is the world flocking to find what they want in life from Christians? 

  • http://www.theology21.com jonathan Keck

    It’s all about Christian isolationism, didn’t you know? If I get near some non-Christians I might get infected with their icky sin!! Faithbook all the way! oh, and Godtube too!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1388514701 Greg Dill

    It actually goes against the Kingdom of God to create isolated Christian alternatives to secular societies. Jesus dined with the sinners. He let a prostitute pour perfume on His feet. He sat with a Samarian woman at a well. He touched a leper. The list goes on. Jesus didn’t hang out with only the religious folk. In fact, He had quite a few words for them. In today’s post-modern technological society, we shouldn’t be finding alternatives to stay away from those “virtual heathens”. Instead, we should be mixing it up with them and getting involved in their world. The number one way a church dies and crashes is when it becomes so self-absorbed that they no longer become a lifeboat to help rescue the perishing. It instead becomes a luxury liner soliciting the promising.

    Keep on Facebooking.

  • Ian

    The thing I find disgusting about it is that it will be used as a way to say “I’m more holy because its I use the christian facebook.” The same person would probably say “I’m more holy because I don’t watch bad movies or listen to secular music.”

    So many christians are saying watching secular movies and listening to secular music is a SIN, which I do not believe. But at the same time I do think that many of the ideas presented by media is definitely wrong and sinful, and there’s a lot of movies I just wont watch (from what ive heard im very glad to have missed the hangover 2) Watching a movie isn’t a sin, but there are a lot of things in the movies that we may find funny, that God doesn’t.

    But where they get the idea that it is a sin, I will never know. Some might just be too afraid of their kids becoming “of the world” that they are determined to make sure they are not “in the world”. 

  • http://perichoreticlife.blogspot.com/ Michael

    While we are called to not be “of the world”, we are clearly called to be “in the world”. The effectiveness of our witness requires interaction with the culture around us. Besides, if we think we can create a sub-culture that is free from fallen our own nature, then clearly we have fallen so hard as to hit our heads senseless.

  • Anonymous

    Great thoughts Kurt. Most of the time when we want to create what is an alternative to the present culture, we just reproduce just an alternative and nothing more than that. I guess we got to probe deeper than just propose and alternative…like the Kingdom of God. 

  • Anonymous

    Kurt, I entirely agree with you.   Because of my role in the business world or tech and Silicon Valley, I get a lot of inquiries from Christians wanting to start these types of new media Christian Business’.   I try as I may to encourage them to start their business because it would be the best business of its type not using a label to position it.    Rarely can I swat them and lots of good well intended money comes and goes. 

    I use this verse in Daniel as a basis.    Daniel 1:20 – And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom.   

    Daniel and his men were found ten times more knowledgeable then any of the officials and leaders the King could find.  It was their conviction and dedication to be the best at whatever they did that this was true.  

    I’m not a “Christian” business man (what does that mean anyway).   I just happen to be a business man, doing business and life in the way of Jesus, caring more for people than profit etc; hoping to show others a little bit about what it means to surrender all to the sovereign and saving way of Jesus.   If we did that all our decisions about life, faith, work etc will come under scrutiny.   

    We don’t need a label to live in that reality. 

  • Rhonda Wittmer

    When the FAITHBOOK bit went on for more than three sentences, I was worried that I would have to  unsubscribe.  Seriously.  I added this to my subscriptions because I am an “evangelical reject” who identified with that post.  I have to say, it was a good joke, though.

    • http://thepangeablog.com Kurt Willems

      @google-46098773ac08d92efbf3d6178897b1bb:disqus , Favorite comment thus far!!!!!!!!!  Glad you read it all :-)

  • Joyce Harback

    I agree we are to be salt and light, not secluded and withdrawn. However, I don’t see anything in the scripture that affirms people will beat a path to our door. Jesus’ words in Matthew 7 indicate few find the narrow gate to life. I think he also mentions something about judging, and beams and specks…

    • http://thepangeablog.com Kurt Willems

      @google-3007077e1f17a4ebbe2a9f6bef296cfe:disqus , Salt and light / city on a hill… just some images that remind israel that they are blessed to be a blessing.  This blessing to all nations in Abraham has been there throughout the whole biblical story.  When we are salt and light… the nations will be gathered in.  This is a key point of the whole story of the bible.

  • Tony Biasell

    Well said Kurt. Appreciate the attention getting beginning…

  • http://krissiwyss.wordpress.com Krissi Wyss

    Thank you. I’m obviously gullible & newer to your blog. I thought it might be the last post I’d read because when I thought you were possibly serious (I kept looking for the punch line, it took a while to get there), I could not figure out the angle.  OK. I get it. I agree :)

  • http://covenantoflove.net/ Derek

    Good article Kurt.

  • Tabers Truths

    You rightly point out that isolationism is not a Christian calling. You also rightly point out that most alternatives are cheap imitations. However do you drink diet soda with saccharin or aspartame? Some alternatives end up being better. I think the viable niche that Christian Faithbook http://christianfaithbook.net provides is not so we can isolate ourselves from the world but that we can have a safe and family friendly place as sanctuary. Many people are tired of the censorship that happens on Facebook with religious posts. I think they are tired of the inappropriate pictures and foul language that goes on. Is there not room for a place to go that keeps the conversation and posts clean?

  • Matthew Russell

    that’s kinda dumb. the only people you gonna be able to network with on faithbook are other christians. What if you want to share pics with non-christian friends? just keep em both, facebook for your regular stuff for everyone, and faithbook for your stuff that you only wanna share with christian friends.


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