Should churches use social media? What are the benefits and what are the drawbacks?
There are so many social media’s out there today that it’s hard to list them all but I’ll try to mention the most popular, and perhaps the most influential. There is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, You Tube, Pinterest, and dozens of others media’s that can be utilized. Christian Quotes (Christianquotes.info) have apps available so that subscribers can receive daily devotionals on their wireless device. Today, there are even churches which have their own apps and on these, they can post bulletins about upcoming events and prayer requests. These can reach more people in the church in a much quicker time, and many churches use these as “prayer chains.” Our local town has a Facebook page called “Sumner County Prayers” where anyone who joins can post their prayer requests. It creates a close-knit relationship for many who may not be able to see one another or may attend a different church. It allows people to both pray for others and have others pray for them, and I think that’s a “win-win,” however, this can never replace or be a substitute for corporate worship (Heb 10:23-25).
Utilizing Social Media
I touched on one way your church can use social media, like with the Facebook prayer page, but there are unlimited ways that social media can go where no one person can. Social media (including apps) can get news out about the community, report on local emergencies and needs (i.e. due to house fires), it can make people feel connected to the community or their church, if fosters closer relationships as far as keeping connected (though face to face is always best), it unites the entire church (or area churches) to have one means to communicate to them all, but it can also be an open door that allows you to invite family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers to your church so that they might (hopefully) hear the gospel of repentance and faith and be saved. We cannot overlook a church’s website, but if a church is so small that they can’t afford to set one up, there are dozens of places on the Internet that offer free websites so that your church can use these at no cost. This also helps when someone is trying to find a church. They can search the Internet and see your church’s website and read your statement of beliefs (most important), when services are held, and what other ministries are offered, like Sunday school (adult and/or children’s).
How people are Saved
We cannot ever look at social media as a means to save anyone because salvation only comes through faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12; Eph 2:8-9), however God may use social media as a means to draw some to a biblically faithful church where they can hear the true gospel message of repentance and faith (Mark 1:15), and thereby be saved. Even so, God is the One Who draws men to Himself (John 6:44), as Jesus Himself said, “when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32), meaning that when He is crucified and displays the powerfully potent agape love of God on the cross (John 3:16), people will be drawn to the hope of salvation that is found only through trust in Jesus Christ alone (Acts 16:31). God will use social media, but people are not saved by posts, pins, “likes,” or tweets. It is only through the preaching of the Word that people come to repentance and faith. It is never the “tweeting’ of messages that saves, but only through the conviction of the Holy Spirit, Who then illuminates Scripture and reveals Who Jesus is and why they need Him as Savior. I can’t do that, nor can social media. It is always the outer Word (the Bible) being opened by the inner word (the Holy Spirit) that points others to the Living Word (Jesus Christ). The Apostle Paul tells us that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom 10:17), so while posting on social media can be beneficial, it’s not the way people are generally saved. It takes “hearing with faith” (Gal 3:2) to be brought to repentance and trust in Christ. Paul is spot on in writing, “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news” (Rom 10:14-15).
The drawback of using social media is that people might miss out on interpersonal, face to face relationships and fellowship with one another. Social media cannot ever replace the church, but our church uses social media like You Tube to rebroadcast our sermons for those who are distanced from churches, or they cannot attend a church due to health reasons. Then, there are others who are shut-ins or in nursing homes. Some even are in countries where it’s too dangerous to have a church, but we must still recognize that it’s through the preaching of the Word and the conviction of the Holy Spirit that a person is saved. Repentance and faith are the two wings that fly us into the kingdom (Mar 1:15). We can’t work our way there. It must be the free gift of grace through faith that we are saved (Eph 2:8-9), or nothing. No social media can ever do that! It takes the Word of God spoken by a person of God and joined with the Spirit of God to make the children of God, and all for the glory of God. It isn’t our responsibility to save anyone. It is their response to His ability, although it remains our responsibility to tell them (Matt 28:19-20; Acts 1:8). Yes indeed, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news” (Rom 10:15)?
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.