Tim Chester is the author of numerous books on subjects ranging from church planting to mission and social action to the Trinity. He recently wrote “Will you be my Facebook Friend?” where he raises vital questions about our online presence.
Andy and Glen ask him questions such as: Are we creating false images of ourselves online? Are we substituting online community for face to face fellowship? Are we spending too long on social media? Is our online engagement properly Christian?
Twelve Guidelines for Social Networking
1. Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t say were the people concerned in the room.
2. Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t share publicly with your Christian community.
3. Ensure your online world is visible to your offline Christian community.
4. Challenge one another if you think someone’s online self reflects a self-created identity rather than identity in Christ.
5. Challenge one another if you think someone’s online self doesn’t match their offline self.
6. Use social networking to enhance real world relationship not to replace them.
7. Don’t let children have unsupervised internet access or accept as online friends people you don’t know offline.
8. Set limits to the time you spend online and ask someone to hold you accountable to these.
9. Set aside a day a week as a technology “Sabbath” or “fast”.
10. Avoid alerts (emails, tweets, texts and so on) that interrupt other activities especially reading, praying, worshipping and relating.
11. Ban mobiles from the meal table and the bedroom.
12. Look for opportunities to replace disembodied (online or phone) communication with embodied (face-to-face) communication.
Matt Rich runs a chat helpline website that connects with hundreds of people a month, answering questions about the Christian faith, and pointing people to Jesus through their local church etc. He speaks to Andy and Glen.