I read an article today that has me thinking about the connection between social networking and church hopping. The concept is not that new, it has always existed. It seems there has always been a certain nomadic Christian who bounces from one community of believers to the next. But as of late it seems to be a little out of control – or greater than I have ever experienced anyway.
Here’s a quote from the article –
“We now live in an automagical world. A world that is composed of not one future, but multiple futures. A world of self-chosen communities or tribes that are nodes in large, complex networks of such groups. A world in which hierarchical pyramids of control are crumbling and the Taylorism world of precise affluence has become a Web 2.0 world of mystical influence and social networks.” Randy Elrod, The Death of the Alpha Leader
I do believe that social networks and technology are influencing people unlike ever before. This is due in large part to technology and its ability to connect people instantly and over a large geographic area.
I am able to watch a worship service (music and message) from many great churches all over the country thanks to streaming media over the Internet. I am influenced by phenomenal pastors and leaders (in essence sit under their yoke) by subscribing to their blogs. I even know what some of them had for dinner last night thanks to Twitter.
As a participant I find this all very exciting and fascinating if not a bit voyeuristic. What could be better than having access to some of the greatest teaching and leadership on the planet? And, what does this have to do with church hopping?
Here’s my theory: Because of this access to other great churches and leaders, people are becoming increasingly hypercritical of their own local church and leadership. As a pastor, I find myself playing the comparison game as well. “That church (in another state) is really being blessed. I can’t believe how quick they’ve grown in such a short amount of time.” Or, “I wonder why we don’t seem to be as creative as them?”
The problem with this thinking is that technology creates a false sense of community and fellowship. Truth is, I have lots of friends and churches I attend via the Internet, but how many of them do I really know? With how many am I really able to do life with?
So, church goers are increasingly being influenced by guys who live in other places like Grand Rapids, Nashville, Seattle, or Dallas making it more difficult to be influenced by their own local pastor and community. And, because it’s unrealistic to move to one of these other cities, many are choosing to leave their current church in search of greener pastures which I believe they will never find. I don’t believe that technology will be able to replace true human connectivity. If we can’t sit down and share a meal together, then we are not in community.
The rest of the article delves more into the leadership implications of this New World. If you’d like to read it, just click HERE.