3 reasons I broke up with Facebook

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I joined Facebook in 2008 and immediately enjoyed re-connecting with friends I’d lost track of over the years. Had to learn some etiquette and boundaries from my teenagers, but it quickly become a valuable connecting tool for me in ministry and personal life. Almost everyone I know is on FB.

So why did I break up with Facebook recently? Three reasons.

1. This election. Elizabeth and I studied Spanish in Costa Rica for eight months in 2016. Cramming a new language into a ‘mature’ brain meant I was toast mentally by about 5pm. FB was a way to relax and connect back in the US.

Until we all (myself included) started getting testy, rude and/or disagreeable, saying things we would not say if the person(s) were in the room. Over politics.

Tobias Rose-Stockwell’s post How We Broke Democracy is worth a read. It makes a case against (me) using FB. He says the way we use our technology, particularly Facebook, ‘has changed this election and is now undermining our ability to empathize.’  The powerful FB algorithm has created what my friend Danny Slavich calls our own ‘personally curated social media echo chambers’ where I had actually cut myself off from people while reinforcing my own sinful opinions and pride.

2. Neighboring 101. We chose to live in a part of Atlanta where we are a minority because we wanted to be part of the solution to racism. But I lost my way along the virtual trail. I forgot who my neighbors are and that God’s great command says clearly…

Love the Lord your God… and your neighbors as yourself.

Which leads to some hard questions!

  • Can I really love God without loving neighbors as myself?
  • Am I loving myself as God loves if I’m not loving my neighbors?
  • Are FB friends or people in my physical community my neighbors?
  • Do neighbors tweet, post or talk? Which is more helpful and kind?
  • What if I treated my neighbors like people are treated on FB? ummm

The most basic teachings of the Christian faith have so much to say to our current situation. Scripture says far more about loving actual neighbors than it does about political involvement.

3. Need more joy in life. This rarely-quoted verse in the Bible startled me when Pastor Héctor read it last Sunday.  “…I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink (keyboard and screen?). Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our j o y may be c o m p l e t e.‘ (2 John 13).

My mother taught me that ‘joy is being glad to be with someone’ and if there is anything I need or want more of now, it is joy in the midst of division, sadness and anger. I need to be together, talking face-to-face MORE not less.

So, see you later Facebook. It was nice for a while.

 

(Note: I’m not closing my account. Yet. Nor am I advocating that you close your account. Rather, I’m using it like email or snail mail for messages. And I’m keeping up with this blog and Twitter. FB has a redemptive purpose in that I can communicate with many people who are indeed real-life friends and family. For that I am grateful.)

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I wanted to be a famous pastor

crowd at conference

I used to want to be more famous. I didn’t say it that way, but that is what I wanted. Honestly, I still want it, but less so. Maybe I’m getting wiser. I’m certainly older. And honestly, I’m afraid. For myself and the men, women and their families who lead churches.

Is this the fear of the Lord that is the beginning of wisdom? These days I coach several planters and pastors. I’m involved with many church planting networks where we talk about and expect churches to grow. And always to get as big as they possibly can. And we are always sad and devastated when someone takes a fall.

I’m beginning to wonder if wanting to be more famous, have a bigger reach or growing our numbers is a good expectation. Or if we should be a little more suspicious of celebrity. Even small-time celebrity I (still) want.

This may be an emperor’s new clothes set of questions, but I’m going to ask anyway:

  1. As a planter or pastor, is getting more people to follow you better? Is more influence or power, money, buildings necessarily healthy?
  2. Should we planters and pastors produce media content (i.e. blogs, podcasts, tweets, posts, videos, books) or focus mostly on sermons, prayer, disciplemaking and shepherding? (Yeah, that is a leading question and this is a blog. Forgive my mixed signals. I can see my agenda is showing.)
  3. Is the pursuit of becoming a larger church with big followings a biblical or wise way for God’s Kingdom to expand? Or are there unseen, inherent risks to those who lead them?
  4. Should ‘successful’ planters and pastors speak at conferences, author books that require them to travel to speak at more conferences and be away from their family and flock?
  5. Should we ask some hard questions about our role in attending, promoting or supporting conferences that promote celebrity?

And more importantly, what should we learn by how Jesus handled celebrity?

Planting and pastoring a church is already a dangerous calling. I hear far too often of burnout, moral failures, depression, family struggles and even suicide among pastors. That is not the way it is supposed to be!

Are we, in part, hurting ourselves? Are we playing into a scheme of our enemy? Maybe we should examine Scripture and talk about a better way.

Perhaps we should aim lower.

Lord, have mercy.

More of Less for Church Planters: Part 2

(Second half of this post.) 
I love throwing Frisbee. Nothing beats a good game of Ultimate or just tossing the 175g across a field with someone who has skills on par with mine. I’m not the best, but I do well and I enjoy it. 
Nobody is born knowing how to throw well. It’s weird and takes no small amount of practice, even for naturally athletic people. Same for grace-directed spiritual disciplines.
More of less should be a normal skill for every Christian. Not considered newsworthy or radical or cool if you have nothing better to do with your time. It’s motivated by this: wanting to be with Jesus, no matter what it takes.
Even if it threatens the idol that you might not get as much done, potentially being less successful, potentially feeling like you are wasting your time. Especially if it reveals idolatry!
What We Need
Our churches in the West need more power of the Holy Spirit. More prayer and intercession. More trust in God than trust in human skill and effort. What we need more grace-filled discipline to spend time with our Father.
When I parachuted in to do a scratch, multi-ethnic church plant, there were a million things to do, but I taped a quote from Eugene Peterson to my computer monitor. It says, ‘Busyness is laziness.’ What? I’ll spare you reading his whole book and summarize his point: Busyness is substituting many good things for the highest, most excellent thing. Meeting with Jesus ought to be our most excellent task. 
Do I get too busy? Yes. Am I not getting enough done? I don’t think so. Am I closer to Jesus after working hard to plant a church? Yes. I’m more dependent on Him. I’m less hurried and harried than I used to me. Because of His grace worked into me through resting more, accomplishing less myself and the discipline of less.
Pastors, fathers, mothers, your church and your family need Less. You need Less – to turn off the 24/7 distractions and meet with Jesus – regularly, purposefully, intentionally. Replace the good things with excellent. You need More – quiet, solitude, simplicity, fasting – it will deepen your experience of Jesus’ grace. 
More of Less is experiencing the transformation Jesus’ wrought by His salvation. Disciplines of Less are not earning your salvation. The message of the gospel is that Jesus has completed everything in his life, death, burial and resurrection and granted it to us to live out. He is The Evangelist, Minister, Networker, Do-It-All Leader of your church plant. He’s The Senior Pastor of your church, The Leader of your network. Less of our work is needed and more of Him is needed.

Like learning to throw a Frisbee, more of less is awkward at first. But worth it.

 

More of Less for Church Planters: Part 1

Silence. Solitude. Meditation. Fasting. Simplicity.
These are as strange and alien concepts to the life of Christians in the West. At best such practices feel odd, optional or only for super-Christians. Or worse, they could be construed as punitive.

However our historic Christian faith grew in grace and power as everyday believers and leaders practiced spiritual disciplines. On purpose. With astonishing results.

Check Out Spiritual Disciplines
When I started in ministry as a 23-year-old Jr Hi Pastor just off the road with a Christian band, voice mail and pagers were cutting edge. We communicated only via phone and paper. As a church planter, we have social media, mobile phones and the internet that invades every spare corner of our lives.

My first boss in ministry encouraged me to read Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline and made me go on monthly prayer retreats. I did not like it at first. Now as a church planter, I am so glad someone showed me how and why spiritual disciplines are vital for ministry. It was not easy for me to do.

It showed me ministry is impossible to do. For me. I need Jesus to do it through me. In fact, Jesus said in  John 14:12-14 that we would do greater works than He did. By asking Him to do what He can do through us.

Disciplines are inconvenient, frustrating and seem counter-productive. But we managed to get ministry accomplished before cell phones, iPads and Wi-Fi. Apparently, even Jesus and the church ministered pretty well focusing on prayer, discipleship and a simple life.

It leads to this leading question: what kind of boundaries (if any) do you have now between the urgency of everything on your phone or tablet or laptop and your relationship with Christ? I fear our little space for Jesus makes me/us a mile wide and an inch deep. I’ll even say it may make us hypocrites on par with Pharisees.

Expect More of Less to be Normal?
A pastor friend of mine recently posted the following:

(Name) is going off the grid for a week for a silent retreat. Yup. No cell, not FB, no Angry Birds, no TV to numb or distract me. No agenda, not planning, no strategizing- just a whole week to meet with Jesus. I’ll either go completely crazy or meet Jesus. We’ll see.

I applaud his decision! And I say more of less! More of less should be normal. And not drive you crazy.

 

Jim Moon, Jr. serves CMM (Church Multiplication Ministries) as Coaching Catalyst and is Founding Pastor of Crosspoint Encuentro Church in Smyrna GA.