Facebook Killed the Church

A co-worker at MonkDev posted this article, How Facebook Killed the Church written by Richard Beck, Associate Professor and experimental psychologist at Abilene Christian University. Here are some brief thoughts on a couple of the points made:

Why didn’t Gen X leave the church while the Millennials are leaving in droves? It’s about those cellphones. It’s about relationships and connectivity.

Is Facebook and cell phone connectivity really killing the church? Or is the rise of social networking a reflection of a sociological shift that was already occurring in the US that reinforces the decentralization of power, rejection of modern concepts and the desire for people to seek out new forms of community. The author continues:

Church has always been about social affiliation. You met your friends, discussed your week, talked football, shared information about good schools, talked local politics, got the scoop, and made social plans (“Let’s get together for dinner this week!”).

Why wouldn’t we say that the many who are leaving demonstrate 1 John 2:19. (They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. ) Cultural Christianity is a deep epidemic in the Church, the numbers (my opinion) would astound us if we actually knew the number of unsaved religious Christians. This comment in the article reinforces the false Christianity. While certainly the church provides a third place of social connectivity that is the not primary reason God formed a community reconciled to Himself to be on mission to the world. As the culture shifts what will take place is that many established churches, which were appropriate in modernity may lose people but in this changing time God is leading others to start new churches that reflect the ideology generation resonates with.

9 Comments
  • Dana

    March 15, 2010, 10:30 am

    I would agree with this assessment. While I do not believe any specific application – cell phones or Facebook – are to blame for the exodus of Millennials, I believe it is the general mindset of Millennials – decentralized power, information sharing, and constant connectivity – that draws them to the “always on” conversation of social media and causes them to reject the very scheduled (Sundays and Wednesdays) and very hierarchical structure of most churches specifically and denominations in general. Millennials are much less about being preached to or taught about religion and more about experiencing it and discovering it together as a pack.

    As such, pastors and teachers who want to reach or recapture Millennials need to shift their paradigm of transferring information from the tried-and-true lecture format to one of open conversation and self-discovery. Here, pastors and teachers transition from the role of teacher to guide, and from authoritative figure to experienced sojourner.

    That, and Generation X and Baby Boomer leaders need to get on Twitter and other social media instead of trying to figure out why no one readers the printed newsletter formatted in Courier typeface.

  • Brian Thomas

    March 15, 2010, 11:14 am

    Perhaps another reason they have left is that we not given them adequate reason to stay? By that I mean throughout the 80s-present the church has largely become biblically illiterate and we have given up the ancient form of catechesis with our children so that they not only know what they beleive, but why they believe it. Community for community’s sake is not enough; the community must gather round something, and if it is not Word and Sacrament, than it will be something else such as sports, good schools, politics, etc. and frankly, I don’t need the body of Christ for that.

  • D. Goodmanson

    March 16, 2010, 12:16 pm

    Reminded me of a tweet I saw today:

    @jimelliff Did anyone join the early church because they liked the music?

  • Debra

    March 21, 2010, 3:09 pm

    I like the last comment re: music. Could it be we are losing people from the church because they are not being taught the truth of Scripture. I do not go to church to be entertained nor for socializing. I go to learn the truth and to hear the Word of God. Our churchs are failing because the world is invading it. Christians are to not be of the world. By watering down the truth and doing what the world does to bring in people – translated money – we have failed God and definitely failed Jesus death on the cross.

  • Tom Denegre

    June 28, 2010, 9:35 am

    I have to be careful that church is not another source of entertainment. Rather, I’m reminded of John 4 where Jesus tells us to seek God in truth and spirit. It’s God word that nourishes our spirit and soul.

  • Jeff E.

    July 9, 2010, 3:47 pm

    Great post and thoughts on a big issue facing leaders of the present/future church. while i don’t believe that fb is “killing” the church, understanding why fb has 400 million users might be a good start. how many millennials (and x-ers) do we know that are not “spiritual but not religious”? barna’s research has shown most people are open to spiritual discussion – but that’s the key word: discussion (aka: dialogue – not monologue). however, what is the primary mode of sunday morning scripture teaching globally? monologue. if we’ve grown up in the church or in the USA in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s & 80’s we’ve been socialized to sit quietly while the authority on the subject lectures us with the facts, fiction, figures and formulas we need to know to get a passing grade (aka Be a Good Christian).
    I’m not a teacher, nor do i go to school/university anymore, but it seems that is not how educators are being trained to teach. It seems that interactivity, discussion, participation and instant feedback are key and much of this is being offered from pre-school through online universities.
    Where does the church fit in, then? Len Sweet’s “EPIC” comes to mind.
    Or will it comes down to a more simplified biblical model for church – boiled down to the essence of Acts 2:42 which as peterson translates: “They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.” I can’t remember the exact statement (i saw it tweeted by an attendee) by Frances Chan yesterday at the NACC in Indianapolis – but it was something like this: “Nobody puts down the book of ACTS and says, ‘Wow that looks just like my church!”
    If the church’s social aspect is no longer relevant to people, that doesn’t mean the message is. perhaps being more Christlike and instead of waiting for them to come, we need to go to them, or instead of preaching being the primary focus of the worship service, we spend more time listening to the stories people have to share. I don’t know – i’m just another gen-x person scratching their head trying to figure out how to reach folks w/God’s love & grace….

  • John B.

    October 12, 2010, 6:11 pm

    This sounds like the discussion we have every Monday morning trying to figure out why so and so didn’t come to church yesterday, or misses two weeks a month consistently, and or why people are so unwilling/unqualified to carry a significant ministry.
    Where are we missing in making ministry relevant?
    Is it a mistake to try and create a ministry experience that attracts people, while staying true to the gospel message?
    And, if they “didn’t really belong to us…” what measures to we make to reach them, to bring them back?
    I have only just dived into the Kaleo website, and only briefly, but it appears that the “sermons” are presented in more of a discussion, interactive format. Is that a correct assumption, and how is that working? Would the sermon based small group discussion model help in maintaining a connectivity?
    Help!