Although I do not agree with his philosophy or theology - Here is an interesting article by Richard Beck on Social Media's affect on today's church attendance. The churches mentioned in the article are churches that do not most likely have fervent Body Life.
has been a great deal of hand wringing in the Christian community about
the onset of Web 2.0 relationality (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, blogs, MMOGs). The concern you often hear is that "virtual" relationships are no replacement for "authentic" relationships.
No doubt this is true. But I've done some research in this area and here's my general conclusion: Facebook friends tend to be our actual friends.
doubt, the vast majority of the people in a friend list on Facebook are
strangers, acquaintances, or old school friends you haven't seen in
years. But no user of Facebook is confused enough to think that she is
"in relationship" with any of these people. These are just the penumbra
around the core of our Facebook interactions, connecting with people we
actually know and are friends with.
In short, Facebook isn't replacing real world relationality. Rather, Facebook tends to reflect
our social world. For example, in a soon to be published study some ACU
colleagues and I used Facebook to predict student retention at our
school (i.e., which freshmen return for their sophomore year). We found
that on-campus Facebook activity was significantly correlated with
measures of "real world" relationality. Further, on-campus Facebook
activity also predicted who would come back for their sophomore year.
For example, if you had a lot of Facebook Wall Posts you felt more
socially connected and were more likely to come back to ACU for a second
year. Which makes sense. Who would be posting on your Wall day to day?
Sure, old friends might give you a shout out from time to time on your
Wall. But for the most part Wall posts come from people who you'll
actually see today. Or at least this week, month or year. The point is,
you know these people. Talking with them via Facebook is authentic
relationality. It's staying in touch, coordinating plans, offering up
encouragement, saying a prayer, working out misunderstandings, and
sharing a moment.
Over at my friend Mike's blog there was a recent discussion
about why Millennials (also known as Generation Y) are leaving the
church. His question was, why are they leaving? Most of the answers took
aim at the church. Churches are too shallow, hypocritical, judgmental,
or political. Many surveys have shown these attitudes to be widespread
among Millennials. Consider the Barna research summarized in the book unChristian.
Young Christians and non-Christians tend to feel that the church is
"unChristian." Too antihomosexual. Too hypocritical. Too political. Too
judgmental. That's how young people see "the church." And it's hard to
But my argument at Mike's blog was that the church
has always been this way. Is the church of 2010 much different from the
church of the '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, or '90s? I don't think so. So,
yes, the church is screwed up. Always has been. The church has been a
depressing constant over the generations. So the change isn't with the
church. The change is with the Millennials. If so, in what way and how
has this change related to the church?
most obvious change is in mobile and Web 2.0 connectivity. Generation X
didn't have cell phones. Nor did they have Facebook or text messaging.
And you can't tell me that Millennials see the church any differently
than Generation X saw it. Look to the right at cell phone subscriptions
plotted by decade. Most have Generation X as birth dates between 1961 to
1981. Which has Gen X as college students in the years 1979 to 1999. As
you can see, most Gen X'ers didn't have cellphones. And based on the
sociological evidence Gen X was much more cynical and anti-establishment
when compared to the Millennials. So you can't tell me Gen X'ers didn't
see the church as judgmental, hypocritical, or sold-out. They did.
So what happened? Why didn't Gen X leave the church while the Millennials are leaving in droves?
difference between Generations X and Y isn't in their views of the
church. It's about those cellphones. It's about relationships and
connectivity. Most Gen X'ers didn't have cell phones, text messaging or
Facebook. These things were creeping in during their college years but
the explosive onset of mobile devices and social computing had yet to
truly take off.
So why has mobile social computing affected
church attendance? Well, if church has always been kind of lame and
irritating why did people go in the first place? Easy, social
relationships. Church has always been about social affiliation. You met
your friends, discussed your week, talked football, shared information
about good schools, talked local politics, got the scoop, and made
social plans ("Let's get together for dinner this week!"). Even if you
hated church you could feel lonely without it. Particularly with the
loss of "third places" in America.
Millennials are in a different social situation. They don't need
physical locations for social affiliation. They can make dinner plans
via text, cell phone call or Facebook. In short, the thing that kept
young people going to church, despite their irritations, has been
effectively replaced. You don't need to go to church to stay connected
or in touch. You have an iPhone.
Sure, Millennials will report
that the "reason" they are leaving the church is due to its perceived
hypocrisy or shallowness. My argument is that while this might be the proximate cause the more distal
cause is social computing. Already connected Millennials have the
luxury to kick the church to the curb. This is the position of strength
that other generations did not have. We fussed about the church but, at
the end of the day, you went to stay connected. For us, church was Facebook!
pushback here will be that all this Millennial social computing, all
this Facebooking, isn't real, authentic relationship. I'd disagree with
that assessment. It goes to the point I made earlier: Most of our
Facebook interactions are with people we know, love, and are in daily
contact with. Facebook isn't replacing "real" relationships with
"virtual" relationships. It's simply connecting us to our real friends.
And if you can do this without getting up early on Sunday morning why go
to church? Particularly if the church is hypocritical and shallow? Why
mess with it?
Why are Millennials leaving the church? It's
simple. Mobile social computing has replaced the main draw of the
traditional church: Social connection and affiliation.
Reading these last entries recently stirred me. This journal was used by God to inspire many modern day missionaries from the 1700's on till today.
Wednesday, Sept. 23.1747
I finished my corrections of the little piece before mentioned, and felt uncommonly peaceful; it seemed as if I had now done all my work in this world, and stood ready for my call to a better. As long as I see any thing to be done for God, life is worth having: but oh, how vain and unworthy it is, to live for any lower end! ---- This day I indited a letter, I think, of great importance, to the Reverend Mr. Byram in New Jersey. Oh that God would bless and succeed that letter, which was written for the benefit of his church! Oh that God would purify the sons of Levi, that his glory may be advanced! ---- This night I endured a dreadful turn, wherein my life was expected scarce an hour or minute together. But blessed be God, I have enjoyed considerable sweetness in divine things this week, both by night and day.
His last entry: Friday, Oct. 2.1747
My soul was this day, at turns, sweetly set on God: I longed to be with him, that I might behold his glory. I felt sweetly disposed to commit all to him, even my dearest friends, my dearest flock, my absent brother, and all my concerns for time and eternity. Oh that his kingdom might come in the world; that they might all love and glorify him, for what he is in himself; and that the blessed Redeemer might see the travail of his soul, and be satisfied! 'Oh come, Lord Jesus, come quickly! Amen.'
What a beautiful day of joy, tears, fun and reunion, a reunion of many we haven't seen, in some cases, for 20 years! P. Roman & Albina, two wonderful servants of God, are now one and have begun their race together to "win Him".
The wedding was attended by at least 250 people on a sunny Ukrainian September Day at a Baptist Church which when we lived here, was closed by the communist government and used as a warehouse for educational literature. It was the one of the first baptist churches built in Ukraine where evangelical baptists began their ministry to Ukraine during the 1500's.
I preached on 2 Kings 3.16 - digging ditches of faith in our calling. Both of them have lived their life this way the last 20 years they've been saved.
Now they plan to move to Kyiv and minister there to an eager church that awaits their arrival. Please keep them in prayer and if you'd like to help them please contact us in the GGWO Missions Office.