Facebook is an interesting beast. I have given a lot of thought to my philosophy of Facebook. I think most of us have adopted some type of philosophy or strategy for how we will interact with it. Some avoid it like the plague. Some have an account not to post anything about themselves but to get updates on friends or family. Some want to be known authentically. Some want to be known superficially. All of these are fine. I don’t think it’s appropriate to make moral judgements about how other people choose to interact with it.
I find it especially interesting how different Christians interact with Facebook. For many, it’s a place to state Christian beliefs and stand up for Christian moral issues. Again, I won’t pass a moral judgement on that. And for famous Christians, their personal Facebook page is sometimes a clearing house for their ministry—announcements, devotionals, and so forth. I’m in this weird middle place. I’m not exactly famous, but people read this blog that I don’t know personally, and I get more and more requests to be friends on Facebook with people I don’t yet know.
Which leads me to articulate my own personal Facebook philosophy. It is simply this – Facebook serves the relationships I already have and want to cultivate at a deeper level. Frankly, many of those relationships are not with believers. I don’t feel that Facebook is the place to plant my Christian flag on an issue, though maybe it will help me build a connection with an individual because I know them, their children, their likes, and their dislikes that facilitates real conversation in person about Christ and the Word.
Facebook has helped me connect with cousins that I otherwise wouldn’t get to see but maybe once a year. It lets me know when my friend across town is sick and needs a meal or when a coworker’s marriage is falling apart. And it’s how I let my mom know I have a sinus infection, my friends at church know that I need prayer, or the other preschool moms know that I’m going to the playground in our neighborhood. It’s the place that I save pictures from my family vacation.
Also, I have made genuine Facebook-only friends. One friend in particular became my Facebook friend after we met online when she reviewed one of my books. Though we haven’t met in person, we have become true friends online, and she often writes supportive, encouraging responses to me.
My husband and I often talk of the struggle between public and private ministry. Facebook can be either public or private. Many use it to support their public ministry which is perfectly fine. But our burden as a family is that private relationships and ministry come first. So far, it’s what I have learned and experienced privately that has seemed helpful to people publicly on this blog, through my books, and during various teaching engagements.
In our age of social media, many seem to clamor for a larger public presence. I have been guilty of that at times. I’m thankful for my grounded, private husband, who reminds me regularly that the kingdom comes quietly, slowly over time. There is excitement in large activities with a wide impact, but they can’t distract us from the kingdom value of quiet conversations over coffee about marriages, children, and worship. Or warm hugs and faithful support when someone’s private world falls apart. This is where the kingdom comes and the place that I want Facebook to serve in my life. If you struggle with the value of what you do privately verses the exciting things other seem to do publicly, don’t be discouraged. The kingdom is like leaven, Jesus taught. It starts small but spreads along and along slowly but surely. It’s not top down from public ministry but bottom up from one on one contacts. The kingdom work you do in quiet is the stuff of which Christ talks. Do not be discouraged in your quiet love and concern for others.
Luke 17 20 Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed, 21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you.”