The Common Good

Facebook, Google+, and More: Does Social Networking Enhance Our Faith?

The other day I read some interesting statistics about how social media is shaping our lives . It is interesting to see the response to this and recognize the different ways in which we grapple with deluge of social media in relation to our faith. There are lots of resources emerging to help us maintain a strong and vibrant faith in the midst of this. I wanted to highlight a couple that I have found very useful

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A great resource is this video of Rob Bell interviewing Shane Hipps, a Mennonite pastor and author of Flickering Pixels.

For a more in depth interview you may like to check out this post on the Mustard Seed Associates blog. Lynne Baab's latest book Friending: Real Relationships in a Virtual World is another great resource.

Of course virtual communities are springing up all over. Google+ was recently launched as yet another social networking site for people. I thought that this post by Neal Locke was another interesting twist on the conversation about faith and technology:

Technology changes things. But technology is a part of God's Creation, and a gift: We can use it for good, twist it to evil, or ignore it. The last option, while always popular, has rarely been successful. Gutenberg's printing press changed the world, paving the way for the Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution. Because it made possible the Reformation, it also brought drastic changes to the church, changing almost every visible aspect of Christian worship and theology in just a few generations. In our generation, the internet and digital communication have already brought about drastic changes, and will continue to transform the church in sweeping and dramatic ways in a short span of time.

In the past few decades, church participation in our culture has been in steep decline. And yet, as millions of people leave behind behind their communities of faith, millions more are finding community online, in places that a few years ago wouldn't have even qualified as places. Worshiping communities of Christians are also beginning to appear online, especially taking root in 3-dimensional synthetic interfaces known as Virtual Realities, or Virtual Worlds. The writers of this confession are among them.

And my question once again is, what do you think? Does social media and our interaction on the internet strengthen or weaken faith? Are we deluding ourselves by thinking this is a God given medium or are we appropriately taking advantage of the cultural tools God has made available?

portrait-christine-sineChristine Sine is executive director of Mustard Seed Associates and author of several books including GodSpace: Time for Peace in the Rhythms of Life. She describes herself as a contemplative activist encouraging a way of life that interweaves spiritual practices with concern for justice and environmentalism. She blogs at GodSpace.

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