Using Social Media to Honor God | Christ Fellowship Church
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Using Social Media To Honor God

A practical exploration of living as believers in the age of social media.

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Stephanie Tarno

March 4, 2020

In this question and answer session with Christ Fellowship's Visual Content Coordinator, Stephanie Tarno, we explore the importance and practice of living as believers in the age of social media. 

Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your involvement with social media.

A: My name is Steph Tarno and if I’m being honest, I love social media. I didn’t always have a healthy relationship with it though. I used to wake up and go straight to my phone to see how my latest post was doing or I would find myself scrolling through my feed constantly crippled by the things I felt like I was missing out on. It wasn’t until I fully trusted God with my life and could also celebrate others without comparison that social media became a place for inspiration and authentic connections.

Q: How does social media play a role in our relationship with God? Can it be a good thing? How can it be dangerous in this area?

A: I don’t think people realize that they have, at their fingertips, a way to constantly be a witness for God. It can be used for something great, or it can destroy us. 

  • Comparison: Social media can very easily lead to comparison. Being exposed to the life and content of other peoples’ lives makes us susceptible to measuring ourselves up to other people. This is not God’s desire for how we should see ourselves and it also takes you out of your lane as you start to pursue someone else’s. I can’t imagine all of the blessings I missed out on because I was too busy chasing someone else’s dream that I saw online and was instantly jealous of.
  • Attention/Worship: Are you finding yourself opening your Instagram app more than you are opening your Bible app? Do you run to check your notifications more than you run to God? If we’re not careful, we can spend the greater portion of our attention on our screens than on our God and we can even fall into such avid use that we are putting social media above God.
  • Self Promotion/”Influencer”: Is having a lot of followers a bad thing? No. But branding, promoting, and selling has become a huge part of social media. If we’re not careful, we’ll end up taking God’s place and promoting ourselves and our own agenda. “Influencers” are a huge trend in our society. Maybe having a lot of followers is not inherently wrong, but are you "influencing" others toward the right thing, and do you have the right heart position?

It is true that there are people in our lives who watch what we do. As believers, we are ambassadors for Christ and a huge part of that involves how we live and what we do. Today, so much of that is captured in social media. Through intentionality and careful use, we can live a public life on social media that witnesses well for Christ, and that captures the life of a follower of Jesus.

Does that mean your Instagram has to be about church and bible verses? No. But it does mean that your life [online and off] is meant to reflect the heart of God. Others are watching! What you post matters.

Q: What are some helpful tips and tricks to use social media wisely?

A: I think it is important to think about what you are posting. Andy Stanley has this book called the “Greatest question ever” and the premise of the book is simply, when making a decision, ask yourself the question “In light of my past experiences, current situation, and my future dreams: what is the wisest thing for me to do?” And this applies across the board even with social media. There isn’t a rule book about what to post, but if you ask yourself this question you should be able to discern for yourself what that looks like.

It's also important to create boundaries, some of this will be personal to you and your inclinations, but there are some things that are just wise to put into place such as not DMing the opposite gender at late hours, setting a time limit on social media, turning some notifications off, and being selective (who you follow, what you post, what actual social media you use, what you have as an app as opposed to using on your computer).

Be selective on who you follow. This is a tough area because this is where it can get awkward with friends, but you need to decide for yourself what content you want to consume on social media. Be completely honest with yourself as this is one of the main sources that you consume things from so you need to be intentional and protective of what you let in. If you follow accounts or friends that are posting stuff that you do not want to be seeing then you need to think about unfollowing those accounts. If you’re following accounts or people that lead you into temptation you need to think about unfollowing those accounts.

A: What are some of the dangers of social media that you need to look out for?

Q: I think a lot of the dangers are in the comparison, attention and self-promotion traps that we talked about earlier but a few areas that might not seem as obvious are direct messages, virtual conversations, and communication barriers.

It is easy to think that because a DM is “private” that no one will see it. So it’s important to really ask yourself, "If this is posted publicly, would I still be ok with what I said or what I sent." I also think electronic communication has given us the confidence to say things that our inhibition and morals would otherwise keep us from saying in person. That can be dangerous along with communication barriers because we take feelings and emotions out of conversations, and words can easily be misinterpreted.

Circling back to comparison, we have to remember that with social media, especially Instagram and Pinterest, we are looking at the fully edited version of a staged moment in someone else’s life. So we take that image and compare it to our lowest moments and forget that we also have great moments and that person that we admire is most likely struggling with something too. I personally don’t post about hard seasons until I’m in a good place, so I know I am guilty of looking like a highlight reel. But I believe we fight from victory, not for victory, so I try to keep that perspective when I’m sharing something private. To make the challenge on “what to post” practical, I simply ask myself, “What inspires me that I can share with others, and how does that speak back to Jesus?” I don’t think we need to be scared of social media but we should not treat it lightly or assume it doesn’t affect us. Celebrate others while being inspired by what God is doing in your own life.