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Facebook Safer than Church?

by on October 26, 2009

This article observes that many young people are more comfortable expressing their emotions on social networking sites than they are in flesh-and-bones communities like the church. The anecdotal research revolves around grief. The important take away line is: “As churches, mosques, or temples search for ways to make themselves more relevant today, they stand to learn the biggest lesson from social networks and their success at creating a place that elicits healthy grieving.”

We in the church do need to do a better job allowing people to express grief and other emotions with which feelers are uncomfortable in public. Charismatics do an admirable job creating space for joy and elation. But aside from that, where is it safe in the church to feel taboo emotions like being unloved or betrayed by God? Where in the church is it safe to lust or be jealous or have anger? Of course, not all the emotions implicit in the 10 Commandments or the 7 Deadly Sins (originally the 8 Deadly Thoughts) are off limits in churches. Some churches are pratically built on generating and expressing feelings of pride and vanity.

In our worship we offer a unison or group confession of sin (we call it a prayer of reconciliation) which is followed by silence for personal confession. We also recite some of the Psalms which Calvin refered to as the anatomy of the soul. They include some pretty intense emotional content. But this is still communal and not individual. We need to find a way to allow, as Facebook does, people to express themselves in community and without censorship.

Some suggestions:

  • more silence
  • journaling stations
  • journaling in the bulletin
  • candle lighting stations
  • small groups
  • break out groups during worship
  • anonymous note writing
  • a section of the church website
  • one-on-one meetings like Stephen Ministry

Please comment on other ways we might minister to those who will otherwise entrust their care to their computer.

  1. Mary Mardiguian permalink

    Every church family unit and member will eventually have a deacon. The deacon hopefully will communicate with their assigned group of people and will be able to develop a relationship with them.

  2. Kit permalink

    We might offer an opportunity to express their feelings without identifying themselves and any members could contribute to the answers. Then if we had enough questions or facts offered, we would know whether it was something that we could address in a blog, faq, or another media.

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