Most reading this probably have a Facebook account (if you don’t get on board – its’ the 21st century after all).  I admit to multiple visits daily, checking my statuses, reading links, adding statuses and links, viewing photos, laughing and often…shaking my head (SMH in Facebook speak).  Why?  Because Facebook is an available tool to easily deposit all kinds of behavior with a few strokes for mass viewing.

Yes, Facebook can be a useful tool for promoting the cause for Christ.  Pithy observations, winsome exhortations or just some good light-hearted fellowship can do the Christian soul good.   It also can be an evangelistic tool for the non-Christian to be exposed to Christian truth in a way they might not have otherwise been.  And the funny jokes and videos?  Definitely keep those coming.

But sometimes Facebook behavior can too far (yes that means a rant is coming). What can be used as a great conduit actually facilitates displays of actions that may have the opposite effect of what the poster intended, and in humble opinion, wanting behavior does nothing to honor Christianity.  So here are a few characters I see pop up on my home page that maybe you can identify with.  Oh and if you see yourself in here, know that you are in good company.  I have been guilty of a couple of these myself.

The Revealer: You needn’t wonder what is going on in this person’s life or mind.   That Facebook status asks ‘what’s on your mind?’  This person will tell it, no holds bar, including other people’s business.  You will have some greater insight to Psalm 139 by knowing all the details of their life.

Problem –  there is something sacred about privacy.  The Lord knows all of our thoughts and ways but other people don’t necessarily need to, especially given the mixed audience represented on Facebook.  Moreover, telling other people’s business is akin to gossip, which now has been exponentially distributed to people who may not even know the parties in question.  I think Proverbs 10:19; 11:13 and 13:3 provide some thoughts on this.

The Whiner: Call them Debbie Downer or Chicken Little.  This Christian is discouraged, they are going through a rough patch or maybe just having a bad day…or a series of bad days.  They are at the end of their rope and can’t take it anymore.  They will not hesitate to ‘vent’ on Facebook.    They may want the relief of just letting it out or maybe to garner encouragement from others.

Problem – We all get frustrated and need to vent and find that listening hear.  But the Whiner should find that brother or sister with whom they have a close relationship and can vent off-line.  Besides crying on cyber-shoulders can have the impact of undermining the trust needed to get through the rough spot and discourage further progress.

The Advertiser:  Whether its a new relationship or some other kind of good fortune, this person will not hesitate to constantly advertise how good they have it.   There might be endless streams of photos and updates, complete with countdowns to some special event (maybe seeing their love).  If they have experience some miraculous healing, or landed a promotion, or come into some kind of inheritance, they must continue to share.   Everyone should share in their good news.

Problem – there is certainly nothing wrong with sharing good news.  Do share it!  But not all the time.  1 Corinthians 12:26 says that we should rejoice when others rejoice.  But it also says that we should share in the suffering of others.  The Advertiser might lack sensitivity to how their constant stream of exciting news might affect the Christian who is suffering in that area.  The Advertiser might want to consider the exhortation in Philippians 2:3 to esteem others as more important than ourselves.

The Water Walker Corrector: This person will not hesitate to admonish wanting Christian behavior as they have observed it.  The statuses usually start something like, ‘the problem with most Christians is….’ or ‘I can’t believe what Christians on Facebook are doing’.  The Corrector possibly sees their job of letting others know how they should live and how they are not living.  They might often post scripture that addresses such behavior.

Problem – the Corrector might have an elevated view of their own spirituality, which in actuality, might just be bankrupt.  If there is behavior that is being displayed it should compel an internal examination first.  Galatians 6:1 indicates that correction should come from the spiritual person who can assist in restoration in a gentle manner.  I doubt the mass blast on Facebook accomplishes that.  Ok, somewhere I see a finger pointing at me.  But if you’ve witnessed this, you know what I’m saying.  And this is not Facebook 😛

The Dogmatic Defender: don’t dare make attempts to try to correct this person’s bad theology statements that don’t make sense and don’t really edify.  They are there to teach and to minister and are certain that their update or pithy statement or scriptural observation is edifying and ministering to their ‘friends’.  YOU are the cause of disruption of others being enriched by by attempting to address holes in their premise.

Problem – similar to the Corrector, the DD might have an elevated view of not only their own spirituality, but their interpretation of scripture.  They are right and everyone else is wrong.   But to the DD I say, listen to what others might have to say.  A little humility can go a long way.  There is nothing edifying about arrogance.

Ok so that’s my vent for the day.  The bottom line is that we should all, including myself, think about what we are posting before we post it.  A few second delay won’t hurt and maybe can help.


C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Find him everywhere: Find him everywhere

    16 replies to "Facebooking to the Glory of God?"

    • […] off topic but related, Michael looks at Facebook: Parchment and Pen – Facebooking to the Glory of God? If you have stumbled onto this blog please do take a few moments to read the following piece:- […]

    • Richard Littledale

      Good stuff, and good to say it

      See also “Jesus as my facebook friend” http://bit.ly/cRaNkw

    • Ed Kratz

      Richard, I liked that. I think this is particularly telling

      “Not only this, but there is a law of increasing necessity and diminishing satisfaction which runs parallel to the technological race track. What do I mean by that? Once a thing becomes possible, it then becomes necessary, and once it has become necessary it then becomes vital. Once it becomes vital you must join in or lose out.”

      I think it does become a necessity, which compels us to blast just anything we want without regard to whether we should. I’m learning to hestitate a lot more before posting and am increasingly appreciating those who use Facebook sparingly.

    • mbaker

      Lisa,

      I’m glad you wrote this post. I gave up on Facebook and deleted my page for a different reason: I got hacked 4 times and had to change my password almost every time I tried to log on.

      Unfortunately I realized I didn’t have e-mails for all my friends so then I wasn’t able to notify them after the fact. Duh! I hope no one was insulted when they found I wasn’t on their friends page any more.

      In any case I think Facebook serves a purpose in some ways but I also find that some folks I know are ‘split personalities’ when it comes to what they post on Facebook. They show an entirely different persona there than the person I know them to be. That bothers me, because I wonder who the real person is sometimes.

      Do you find that true as well?

    • Ed Kratz

      mbaker, I can’t tell you how much has been revealed to me on Facebook regarding other people. I have made some startling discoveries, for sure. I could not help but think that the “real person” was the Facebook persona that was letting everything out. See, so Facebook does have its perks 🙂

    • rick cathcart

      I’m very new to facebook and actually find most of what is sent through this venue to be of no significance . Though it has been valuable in reconnecting to a few relatives and friends, most of what I receive is “glad its Friday” / “great soup at the diner” stuff. There now, I’m done venting too!

    • Char

      You have just effectively gutted facebook of its raison d’etre. Like without TMI, whinging, inanity, and annoyingness what exactly is left?

      Yeah.

    • Miguel

      I am not always Salt and Light on facebook, but there are over 1600 people who discuss Making Disciples daily on my Making Disciples facebook page. And that is for His Glory

      http://www.facebook.com/Disciple.Making

    • Ed Kratz

      Miguel, FWIW I love your posts and links. Nothing that would even come close to any of the above categories but rather squarely fits in the 2nd paragraph. You really make me think about evangelism and discipleship. And laugh too 😀

    • Rey Reynoso

      What do you call the person that posts random things but doesn’t often comment beyond an LOL on others? The Social Tooter?

    • Timothy Ha

      Please add a button “Share on Facebook” for articles like this to spread 🙂

    • Bible Study

      I personally think facebook is nothing but trouble. I don’t see any good in it. Even if there is some good in it, like witnessing, there are many families torn apart each year through this “social media” outlet. There are so many “bad relationships” formed through this outlet that otherwise would not be formed. Yes, while many cheating husbands and wives get on there, wouldn’t they find another way even if facebook did not exist? Some may, but there are many innocent relationships that develop into something further because of the ease of access. I just don’t think it is good that the whole world is able to see every detail of the lives of many. Some kinda monster is developing I believe through social media in general. Just my opinion. Facebook itself is not the problem, people with bad intentions is the real problem, they just use facebook as an outlet. Can’t go blaming everything of Facebook, but I don’t like it.

    • Susan

      And there is the VAGUEBOOKER

      Urban Dictionary Vaguebooking: An intentionally vague Facebook status update, that prompts friends to ask what’s going on, or is possibly a cry for help.
      Mary is: “wondering if it is all worth it”
      Mark is: “thinking that was a bad idea”

    • Rintaun

      Being told to just ask you here, to Lisa, may I humbly ask for some explanation or further elaboration on this point? It’s really significant to me, so, I thank you if you take the time to do so.

      “…crying on cyber-shoulders can have the impact of undermining the trust needed to get through the rough spot and discourage further progress.”

      Also, to what was said about split personalities by another commenter, I can say that such phenomenon definitely happens online. Not limited to Facebook but for example many fan followings of video games and books and so forth on forums online…Well, I have some stuff in particular in mind, but I know a lot of people develop the kind of behavior you describe. Whether it be escapism, or any kind of disorder…Haha, I’m no professional. ^^; But, mm, beyond a doubt there are a lot of kids and even young adults (not sure about mature adults) who, if you know them publicly beyond the World Wide Web, make you wonder if you actually know them at all…

    • Jennifer

      I’m sorry to see Lisa has yet to respond to Rintaun. I was also deeply struck by the same point that was quoted in Post #14.

    • Ed Kratz

      Guys, sorry for the delayed response. Being a seminary student, single mom and part-time professional can cause me to overlook things sometimes.

      As to this statement here,

      “…crying on cyber-shoulders can have the impact of undermining the trust needed to get through the rough spot and discourage further progress.”

      Facebook provides a very convenient and almost non-intrusive way to make a proclamation of our woes. I think it can become easier to do this than to find a brother or sister who can help walk through the areas of difficulty and also provide loving challenges to us. It can also become such an escape dealing with the issues that we can rely less on the Lord and more on the ability to vent on Facebook. I’m not saying that is the case all the time only that I think it can lead to this. To be honest, I have vented a few times and I see how it can become easier to vent than to really wrestle with the issues. I hope that makes sense

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