This is not a commentary about Facebook as much as it is a commentary on the nature of the way people approach church today.
A while ago I stopped updating my Facebook page. Many people have asked me why. Well, the answer is rather simple. I was receiving friendship requests from people who were three or four relationships removed from the relationship I actually had. I found it odd, and even a bit unsettling, to call these people friends when I knew nothing about them, except they probably know someone, who knows someone, who knows someone, I know. For most people on Facebook this is not a problem and thus Facebook is a happy place. For me, however, it demonstrates the sad condition of too many churches and thus causes me to lament, not Facebook, but the way people approach their Christian faith and the church in particular.
Recently there was a study done in which it was determined that people in America are being religious without institutions (read more). According to the findings, “While weekly attendees of religious services dropped from 32 to 26 percent of the population between 1983 and 2006, people praying daily rose from 54 to 59 percent in the same time period.” Apparently there is still a strong belief in God and even in the afterlife, but fewer and fewer people are finding a need to attend church because they can pray and have a personal relationship with God apart from the church. Besides, Facebook demonstrates that it is possible to have community without commitment. It is possible to have community without depth of relationship. While this may work on the Internet communities, it often proves counterproductive when applied to the church community.
Facebook is community without depth; community without commitment. Church is community with depth and commitment. It is the way God has designed it. As disciples of Christ, we are called to be in community. There are two many “one another” passages in the Bible to deny this. And yet, this community is also with commitment and depth. The Christian life is not designed to be a life lived in isolation. God saves us and calls us together. We are to pray together. We are to sing together. We are to eat together. We are to serve together. We are to study together. We are to raise children together. We are to live and die together. This togetherness creates a depth of intimacy that not only serves the cause of Christ (John 13:35), but it serves us in our times of need (2 Cor. 1:3-7).
I have discontinued my Facebook page, not because Facebook is bad, but because I am not a fan of community without depth and commitment. If you want community without depth or commitment, go to Facebook. If you want community with depth and commitment (and if you are Christian) you should go to church.