A great deal has been made this year about the shrinking number of Americans identifying themselves as Christians and the impact social media is having on how churches and ministries deliver their messages.
Both of these truths offer opportunities rather than wistful thinking about days gone by in the eyes of outspoken evangelical pastor Mark Driscoll of Seattle’s Mars Hill Church.
In a blog posted recently by Fox News, Driscoll cites the decline of Christian America spelled out in a much-bantered Newsweek cover story as a schism between Christian America and Christendom America.
Christian America, he said, are practicing Christians who observe tenets of the faith such as regular Bible reading and prayer outside of church. Christendom America refers to those who affiliated themselves with a church or a denomination out of family tradition or for social gain but not out of a deep abiding faith. Since American society is increasingly diverse and secular, the necessity for Christendom America is quickly disappearing.
The connection between Christian America and social media is worth pondering, even if you’re not necessarily a Driscoll fan. He argues that the use of social media and technology, such as Webcasting and podcasting of services, will help grow the mass of believers through avenues the traditional brick and mortar approach can’t utilize. Similarly, as committed Christians’ attitudes and lifestyles increasingly trend away from social norms and moral relativism, it will sharpen and clarify the differences between believers and non-believers.
To me, being a committed Christian can look a lot different based on your status, whether it’s martial, economic or social. No matter how much we want to embrace or reject popular culture, who and where we are in our lives will undoubtedly influence our faith.
As for technology, it’s impossible to see precisely where a revolution will lead when you’re right in the middle of it. Five, OK make that three, years ago the impact social media would be having on our lives was unknown to most people. And we’re not even going to get into comparisons to 10 years ago when the Internet was still in its relative infancy.
What seems clear is that churches and ministries alike will be wise to harness technological advances as they try to reach audiences and shape increasingly counter-cultural attitudes and beliefs.
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