Social Media has become Soap-Box Media

I remember when social media used to focus on the question, “what are you doing?” Social media was a way to connect with long lost friends, share experiences and take photos of our food. Social media is still an environment for all of these things.

However

Social media has increasingly become a Soap-box medium.

The question now is, “what side are you on?”

We have unprecedented access to information, stories and images from all across the globe. These stories and causes light up our news-feeds and become hashtags. So, “what side are you on?”  Now, our long lost elementary school friends become opponents or allies.

How did we get here?  Perhaps it is because social media provides us with a bigger voice than we’ve had before. I don’t know if that is true, but it certainly makes it easier to blast a message to a wider audience.

When the issues of the day erupt on my computer or phone screen, I resist the urge to go toe to toe…soap box to soap box. Why? Shouldn’t people know what I think about every issue of the day? Isn’t it our duty and responsibility to proclaim our views?

The trouble is… most issues of the day are more complex than a simple status update.

The truth is… people connected on all sides of the issues of the day are made in God’s image.

The opportunity is… to personally engage with people in conversation. This includes listening.

Now, I recognize that I do my share of soap-boxing. I’m a follower of Jesus and that colors my status updates and tweets. I’m a Detroit Tigers fan and this also impacts my comments (usually negatively).  So, I’m not thinking we shouldn’t share our thoughts and stop promoting our events. But, I’m wrestling with how to lovingly, graciously and truthfully respond in a world filled with injustice, a plurality of beliefs and non-stop escalating news.

So, what is the best policy?

I’m not sure, but I know I don’t like the way things are heading with social-media. Perhaps it’s time that we look each other in the eye and talk to each other and share our perspectives…

and then

still love one another.

 

Belief

I was tasked with the job of writing out the “what we believe” section of our website. It was really hard. What do you put in and what do you keep out? Also, who is going to be interested in this section of the website?

I had a chance to look through many church and denominational websites and it is interesting what people decided on putting on their page. I decided to keep it as simple as I could and focused on some basic beliefs about who we believe God is, how He desires to relate to us, and the importance of Scripture. We did sum up our beliefs in the line, “Jesus is Lord.” That little phrase packs a wallop!

One little phrase that has challenged me is this, “Don’t merely believe in Jesus, share His beliefs.” I am in a culture that focusing on having right belief about Jesus. This is very very important. However, if we just have “right” beliefs, without sharing in Jesus’s beliefs, we will not live out the life and teaching of Jesus. To share Jesus’s beliefs is to not only believe IN Jesus, but also to share His convictions, His views, His passions, and to respond with a life that seeks to be obedient to Him.

So, if you want to take up a bit of a challenge… Read through the gospels sometime (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) and write out some of what Jesus believes.  Then seek to share that belief and watch how it shapes your life. This is what I’m seeking to do on good days and on other days I settle for believing about Jesus.

 

 

Church buildings and why we call our facility “The Hub.”

This past February, our church community moved into our own space after almost nine years of meeting in various rented facilities.  Our church rallied and the process was an inspiring expression of unity and everyone coming together with their unique gifts.

As a church with the mantra, “Be the Church” we decided to refer to our space as “The Hub” instead of “church” or “Watermark.”  Below is a bit of our reasoning to call our place, “The Hub.”

Why do we call our faith family’s home the “HUB”?  Why don’t we just call the building, “the church”, or “Watermark”?  

When Scripture talks about the Church, it never talks about a place. The Church isn’t a place.  The Church is the people, following Jesus together, on mission. This community is referred to as the Body of Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:18,24; Romans 12:5; Ephesians 5:23). One of our mantras through the years has been, “Be the Church.”

Therefore, we call our church’s building, “The Hub.”

But, won’t this “Hub” talk confuse people in the community?

Probably.  But, we believe that it is an important distinction to make in a community with a lot of religious background and baggage. By calling our wonderful home “The HUB” we have an opportunity to question the prevailing assumptions people have about the church.

I grew up in West Michigan and I believed the church was a building we went to and a service we sat through. This outlook makes the church into a vendor of religious goods and services.  This perspective also sees the church as something to consume and shop for.  In this view the church becomes a once a week option to attend, instead of a new purposeful identity to live out, all week.  Also, when we see the church as the interconnected Body of Christ, that each one of us are a part of, we can begin to recognize how we belong to one another and need one another.

Does it really matter? 

Absolutely! I firmly believe this is a conversation that must be had in our wider communities.  By calling our facility “The Hub” we have an opportunity to challenge the widely held views that hold back the church’s mission. If we refer to the building as a “church” we will be reinforcing a non-biblical and non-missional view.  Words are powerful, they reveal what you believe, and they help shape culture.

So why call the building “The Hub?”

First of all, it fits the vision we’ve had about our space. A hub is a central place that things connect to and radiate out from. The building is a home to invite people into and send one another out from.

Secondly, people in the community will come to know our space as “The Hub” and this will help people, with a lot of religious baggage, feel more open to utilizing or connecting in our space.

Bottom line:

We believe that we, as followers of Jesus, are the church sent on God’s mission. We desire to help the 60% of folks in our community who are not regularly connected to a  church community find Jesus, a faith family, and a mission.

Let’s BE the church together on God’s mission!