E-Discipleship-Would the Apostle Paul be a fan?

When you think of online social networking what comes to mind? Many of the older generation feel Facebook and other social networking sites are a waste of time and detrimental to relationships. In some ways, they are right… I’ve had more miscommunication with my family members through text messaging and emails than I care to remember. But, what about those people who you don’t know very well or you know well enough that they won’t take what you say out of context without the non verbal communication?

My husband and I have been apart of youth ministry for over 10 years. Facebook and text messaging has become an integral part of our communication with these students–those who are still in high school and especially keeping up with the ones who have graduated and are in college or now married. More often than not, when a former student needs advise they do not pick up the phone and call. Instead, they send a text or message us through Facebook. Last week, this whole phenomenon got my husband thinking about the aspects of this kind of communication. It sparked a thought in him and got us both thinking about e-discipleship.

If the apostle Paul were alive in 2011, how would he communicate with his followers and how would it be different from how he communicated to those in the first century. I think if we talked to Paul today, he would say that one on one communication is best. But in the first century, he could not have one on one communication with every person at every church he started. So he did the next best thing given the technology available – He wrote letters. When you compare his communication then–letters to his followers, to now, how would it differ? Would he still write letters? Would he send out an email, a text, or a Facebook message?

Don’t get me wrong. I still believe face to face communication is the best. But when you can’t communicate face to face, or even on the phone, isn’t a text message or a quick message on Facebook better than nothing at all? Food for thought.

Disclaimer (my husband is an attorney, so he will like this part) – If confusion or conflict becomes escalated in your e-communication, stop what you are doing and go to that person IN PERSON. The relationship is far too important to let miscommunication destroy it.

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