Social Networking: Needs A Pastor; Needs A Savior?


Intrapersonal or Interpersonal Skills?

I’ve marveled when standing on the bus ramp at our Middle School, student’s texting and tweeting each other while standing only 10 feet apart!  One girl bawled out a guy for not answering her texts even though she sat only two tables away from him in the cafeteria.  There is prestige to having a huge following on Tweet or have hundreds of “friends” on Facebook.  What has happened to the eye to eye oral communication skills?  How many friends of bf’s, best friends, can one have on Facebook?  We can know a lot about somebody through social networking, but how much of them do we really know?  How long will it be before someone “proposes” marriage through a Tweet or Text or Facebook entry? How many tweets would that generate?  How many replies on a Facebook strain would it create?

The pastoral/shepherding aspect of the five fold is getting to be more and more needed to teach “caring” and “nurturing” skills to people who chose communication on an intrapersonal level.  “Being there for someone” is important to the 20-somethings, not only on a communications level, but on an emotional level.  Social networking allows 24/7 access to communicate, but lacks eye to eye, physical touch, oral communications and body language that makes communications personal and intimate.

How does a person know that you really care for them unless you are physically present at the moment?  Everyone needs a shoulder to cry on at times.  Physical shoulders are not available on social networking.   Women love a “good cry” where they don’t want verbal communication or even someone to solve their problems.  They just want another human to “feel their pain”, empathize with them, just “be there” for them.

With a culture that is getting more physically detached from one another, how will that effect the mental health of individuals when in need?  How will it effect the hurting when the physical or mental pain is beyond strain? 

Because of the mentality of 24/7 communication needs, how will the spiritual shepherd have to change his mentality of availability to a generation that demands 24/7 availability?  What does “being available” even mean to this generation?  How is “fellowship” being redefined? 

“In the beginning was the Word….” Christian spirituality has always been around the “Word”, alias communications.  How is the “Word” to be communicated to this generation? The rolling 3 point sermon resonating in a Southern Billy Graham style is being replaced by what? His message of a broken relationship with God can still resonate as this generation looks at salvation as restoring that communication that was lost because of sin.  How is the evangelistic message to be communicated to this social networking generation?

To my generation, Peter, Paul, & Mary sang, “The Times They Are A Changing” accusing parents for not understanding the new language, the new communications of the youth and their movement.  With a new generation comes new forms of music, new forms of speech, new forms of messages or communications around old themes and new ones.  We, the Church, need to acquire new mindsets, new avenues of communicating age-old messages:  Jesus, salvation, the gospel, sanctification, etc., particularly if we are to reach, nurture, care, equip, train, and release this generation for Jesus.