The Importance of Social Media in Theological Education*

Most of us use Facebook or some other social media source every day. We share recipes, we ask for recommendations, we chat with long-distance friends, we watch cat videos. Endless. Cat videos. But have you ever stopped to look at Insta-twitter-book as something more than a feed of inspirational quotes by Beyoncé? We as members of a Christian community, and especially as those involved in theological education, have some special opportunities when it comes to using social media for a higher good.

Giving a Glimpse of the Experience

It is human nature to generalize.  We deal with generalizations non-stop. Many outsiders see people in Moody as all looking the same, voting the same, coming from one social class, and “thinking” the same. This is clearly not the way things are on our campus. “Bible school” may have some negative connotations for those with no experience in such a place. Using social media gives us the opportunity to craft a positive image for those who are outside looking in. We are a diverse group of people drawn together by a love for Jesus and a desire to pursue him. This does not mean that we need to post a Bible verse or sermon link every day. Rather, we should use social media authentically, remaining conscious of the fact that we are representatives of a Christian community as well as Christ himself. We have the potential to impact a larger sphere of people than ever before. Are we using this ability to paint a positive (and genuine) picture of godly people and godly institutions? 

Getting a Glimpse of the Outside World

Just as others are prone to generalize us, so we too are prone to generalize others. Bible college can sometimes facilitate the solidifying of stubborn theological positions and closing ourselves off from learning things outside of them. Social media pushes us to interact with all types of people. These interactions not only give us a chance to present a good witness, but also allow us to see where others are coming from. As we interact via social media, we see that there are people all over the globe who identify themselves as believers in Jesus, despite holding different positions than our particular institution on some important issues. Jesus is our prime example of someone who intermingled with all kinds of outsiders (in friendly ways), which led to wonderful results (cf. John 4).

Giving God the Glory

Social media can be a way to seek glory for ourselves. This is how many people use it. We want to suggest that—instead of using it exclusively to let everyone know how cute we make our children—those of us involved in biblical and theological education should consider using social media as a part of our ministry. For example, think about asking the question, “Is this post going to, in some way, give God glory for what he is doing in my life (or at my institution, in my church, etc.), or am I posting this to see how many ‘likes’ I will get?”  Every one likes to get “likes”, but there is a difference between enjoying interaction via social media and hoarding electronic symbols to boost one’s self esteem. Now, there is nothing wrong with the picture of a two-year-old blowing kisses, or a dog drunkenly chasing its tail.  However, those of us in the realm of theological education have a unique opportunity to share what God is doing in our institutions and places of service. Let’s give glory to God for what he is doing in these places through our posts!

*This article originally appeared in the Moody Mosaic, Issue 5 Volume 5, March 31, 2017