I woke up sad. Some to-and-fro last night that left me emotionally exhausted. And I am struggling with the guilt of not doing more or trying harder. Simply getting through the day has been a struggle the last couple of days. It is all numb and emotionless. Yes, I am someone else’s villain. But the constant struggle is exhausting. I want to move on but God has other ideas – or, a least, I hope He does.
I have just finished season 2 of The Devil you Know. It has been extremely interesting and made me think.
Season 2 looks at the internet cult around Sherry Shriner. What made this show interesting for me was how a person created a cult that is wholly on the internet! People go searching for answers online – to “google” has become a common verb in English. And, as the show points out, the algorithms on social media sites, and especially on YouTube, place people into a filter bubble – a context of confirmation of their assumptions. A person who watches a clip of a particular theory while be directed to other clips that confirm that theory.
What really made me think is that “cult” have worked out how to use this, why haven’t the people of God? Instinctively Shriner knew how to built community online and how to control people through that community. And how to use confirmation bias to move people to action. Yet the church is stuck in trying the same old things and wondering why it does not produce new outcomes!
I have been reading From Social Media to Social Ministry. I am always a little hesitate of books that claim to be a guide or an answer. Often these books have a good analysis of the problem, it is just the step-by-step answers that leave me a little disappointed.
The book is written for an American evangelical audience, all of which I am not. Yet there are some real gems in the mess. (See someone does agree with me!)
The data links the decline to one main thing: a perceived lack of relevance. And relevance isn’t only a question of your message; it’s also a question of your method.
Jones, Nona. From Social Media to Social Ministry
I think a major problem for modern churches is that they are answering questions that no one (except them) is asking. In reality what person outside of the church is interested in what you think the Bible is, or how your escatology connects with your Christology? Some Christian communities behave more like cults (world evil, us good) than loving followers of Jesus.
While the data is not as convincing as the author makes out, I think that the basic point is solid: are churches answering questions people are asking? Or is the church shame-blaming people outside of the church for not asking the right questions?
Jesus connected with people. He used parables (word pictures) for people to experience Him and the Kingdom of God. Jesus used images that people were familiar with and related to. So fundamentally are modern churches building community around an argument, an idea, or around the Person of Jesus?
For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.
The true knight of faith is a witness, never a teacher, and therein lies the deep humanity that is worth more than this frivolous concern for the welfare of other people that is extolled under the name of sympathy but is really nothing more than vanity.
Kierkegaard: Fear and Trembling (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy), 70
A hero who has become an offense or stumbling block to his age in the awareness that he is a paradox that cannot make itself intelligible cries out confidently to his contemporaries: “The outcome will indeed show that I was justified.”
Kierkegaard: Fear and Trembling (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy), 55
Another quote! I like that being a hero for SK is connected to the paradox. Rather than explaining everything, having all the answers, the hero stands and says, “I don’t know”.
The paradox of faith then is this, that the single individual is higher than the universal, that the single individual, to recall a now rather rare theological distinction, determines his relation to the universal by his relation to the absolute, not his relation to the absolute by his relation to the universal.
Kierkegaard: Fear and Trembling (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy), 61.
More to add to the list of quotes for a definition of discipleship.