In this culture, where social media and ministry go hand in hand, I find myself in a conundrum. Although I see the benefit of utilizing cultural mediums to share the gospel and encourage the Body of Christ, I am at war with myself at the worldly implications.
I am on Twitter, but I have come to realize that many (if not most) Twitter users use the medium to gain followers. I have noticed that some people follow me and, when I do not immediately “follow” in return, I am un-followed. So it appears they follow to increase their own following, not because they are inspired, encouraged, or even interested in my life, opinions, or posts. I see the same thing with Facebook, and other social networks.
I have struggled with God’s calling on my life for years and fitting into, what I saw as, the mold of public ministry. For reasons that still elude me, I am often asked to speak to groups and share my perspective on what God has taught me. But, in this culture of celebrity, which has infiltrated and come to characterize “ministry” in the North American church, I find that kind of ministry completely contradictory to the biblical mandate for believers.
I want to be used by God in my culture. I want to glorify Him in my life and ministry. However, I do not want to be famous. I want to be fruitful and effective. I do not want to be revered. I want to be relevant and real. I do not want to be worshiped. I want to be relational. I do not want to be rich. I want to be content with enough. I am told I need to market to minister and brand myself to be heard. But the very mediums that are required to “get your message out there” inherently promote personality without connectedness, ministry without relationship, and resources without true discipleship. We want glitz and glam, charisma and entertainment, pros and poetry.
I find it interesting that in Christian circles there are extremes fostered by these unbiblical attitudes. Churches are willing pay thousands of dollars (and I mean THOUSANDS–I have personally negotiated contracts for Christian conference speakers) for a well-known speaker with books and a big personality, but I was told by a church leader that they could not even pay me mileage to drive two hours one-way to speak to their women’s group, and they contacted me. I am an unknown; therefore, they do not see the value of what I offer. At a minimum, it costs for gas to travel to an event, not to mention, the time spent preparing a message and away from home and family. When I do turn down an offer to speak (which is rare), I feel guilty for not going and choosing not to burden our family finances. If I were a famous Christian speaker everyone would expect to pay a large amount of money for my time. But, since I am not, I am expected to speak for free or at cost to family and myself? Growing up in ministry, I understand the sacrifice of being a Jesus follower and that God will take care of my needs. However, what I do not understand in this age of social media and celebrity is the entitlement that has permeated not just the church, but also our lives as believers and affects how we view each other and ministry as a whole.
I find myself in a very odd predicament. I have told the Lord I will go where He wants and minister how He wants, but I am told by others what it must look like and what I have to do to “succeed.” I don’t want to “follow” to be followed. I don’t want to “friend” just to increase my fan base and broaden my market. Yet, I know that God compelled me to write a book about what He has done in the lives of eight women friends, and He continues to compel me to share through speaking and writing. I also want to be a good steward with what He has blessed me and I absolutely believe that, as a Christian, I am to pursue excellence and do everything “as unto the Lord.” I also believe that “networking” is an original biblical concept, when done in the context of relationship, utilizing the Body of Christ to further the kingdom, not my own personal agenda. I believe in the “one anothers” of scripture.
I am a communicator, but I want to be a godly daughter of the King who brings honor to Him and serves others. I am praying that I find the balance in what I am called to do and how I am called to do it in the society I live in. I am, after all, IN this world, and need to make sure I am not arrogant in my faith. But, I am not OF the world and I must stay grounded in God’s Word so that I do not act like I am.
So I will “tweet” because I live in a culture that uses Twitter as a medium for communication. And I want to communicate because that is the basis for developing relationships that create opportunity to serve and share about the God who wants to redeem and heal lives. I do not want to do it to gain popularity or a following, but to honor my God. God help me to never lose sight of who I am and the One I am doing this for.
Ephesians 6:19-20 (NIV)Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
Colossians 1:10 (Msg) We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work.
Colossians 3:17 (Msg) Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way.