If you’ve been a reader of this blog for a while, you know that I have trepidations about Internet communications. I’m also concerned that the speed of our lives is out of control, as several posts here on that subject will also attest.
The Wall Street Journal ran an article combining the two issues: “A Manifesto for Slow Communication.” Absolutely read it.
Face-to-face communications between human beings is down for the count. As soon as most of the people in one of my long-time small groups were on Facebook, the group folded. Another small group Bible study my wife and I are a part of is attended mostly by those folks who have the least connection to high tech gadgetry. It should come as no shock then that even though this group is open to people of all ages, my wife and I (in our mid-40s) are the youngest people there.
As the Church, these issues pose a serious problem.
What happens to the people in the pews when the business world says “40 hours a week,” but keeping your job means actually having to work 80 hours a week?
What happens when people no longer have time to invest in the life of their church?
What happens when people stop doing ministry because they are too busy?
What happens when everyone stays in touch by Facebook, but no one meets together face-to-face?
What happens when our dependence on online communications depletes our ability to recognize vocal and body language clues?
What happens when the primary means of teaching others, face-to-face student-teacher engagement, is lost?
A friend of mine who was hired for a 50 hour a week job was working 70-80 hours instead. When she pushed back after several years at that pace, her boss was upset, despite the deluge of accolades my friend had received over her many years of service. She’s now looking for work. Hers is a common story.
I worried that Facebook would not be satisfied as a supplementary connection among friends, those who would otherwise meet face-to-face. Indeed, I was right. This summer has gone down as the least personal of my entire life. Facebook seems to be the only way many communicate.
I noted the small group demise above, but another Christian small group we’re a part of pretty much went on hiatus this summer. The reason? People were too busy.
Midweek church services are falling by the wayside. Hardly any church around here has a Sunday night service, either. Fewer churches have Sunday School for adults, though we somehow still manage to cobble something together for the kiddies (when our harried, frantic volunteers can find two seconds to breathe, that is).
Like a decade-old, cotton T-shirt washed too many times on hot, our social fabric is growing increasingly thin. We still recognize the T-shirt for what it is, but we can see through it now.
Questions for this generation of Christians:
How will we educate the Body of Christ if we don’t meet together regularly?
How will leaders identify spiritual gifts in their congregants and nurture them if they don’t meet together in person?
How will younger Christians see the life of Christ modeled in the mature Christian if we can never find time to get together?
How does one read the countenance of another via Facebook?
What happens to the laying on of hands in a digital age?
I don’t have an answer for those questions (and many others like them) other than to say that we Christians must be the countercultural example. If we don’t start slowing down and living differently, then Christ will come back to a world without faith. Because you can’t throw a new convert into a microwave for a minute and expect a fully baked disciple when the bell dings.