I’m starting a new series today called Digital Spirituality which will run on and off outside the busier church seasons like Lent and Easter. This site is all about resourcing you to share faith with your children and I thought we could look at social media for Christian parents – how social media could help or hinder us as we try to do that. There’s no way I have all the answers on this one (or any subject for that matter!) so this is more of a conversation starter. Feel free to jump in in the comments and help this community!
This week: How I use social media to support my own walk of faith
It’s easy to see how social media could damage your walk with God. I’m not immune! The draw of mentally decorating the Forever House as I trawl through Pinterest rather than focusing on my child who is Right. There. In. Front.Of. Me. The lure of chasing twitter followers rather than being a Jesus follower. The temptation to base my self-worth on how many ‘likes’ I got for a Facebook post.
But amongst the dangers lie some great opportunities too. Here are some I’ve discovered. I’m sure you can think of loads more.
Fellowship – while it’s important both to go deeper with people and to remember which friends AREN’T on Facebook, this can be a great way to maintain relationships with church friends, extended family and so on. It can often give you a window into the concerns and interests of friends who might not mention them in real life. It can provide great conversation starters with people you’d like to deepen a relationship with. It can let you encourage friends far away, even missionaries. As a tool, it can be used to effect a lot of good in relationships.
Encouragement – I subscribe to several feeds which buoy me up with bible verses or great short articles on areas where I struggle. The MOB society (Mothers of Boys), The Mod Squad (Mothers of Daughters), Care for the Family, my own church and several blogs I subscribe to.
Bible study – I’ve written before about my on-line bible study and prayer group. Although spread all over Western Europe, me and my Hello Mornings girls ‘meet’ every morning as each of us finds a moment or two to discuss our bible study (sent out from HMC central) and pray for each others needs. It’s a total lifeline if having children makes fellowship difficult for you.
Pinterest is a visual bookmarking app. It’s very helpful for collecting and categorising anything visual you see online. This is one I’ve had to set firm limits around for myself and can be a real time suck. BUT, i find it brilliant if I need ideas for something like meaningful ways to celebrate Easter with a toddler or Fathers Day crafts. The search function is really helpful for this. If I spot something when trawling through my feed then I can book mark it for another time and your feed becomes more personalised over time as you follow people and boards which interest you. I don’t personally use it as a way to communicate with others so it doesn’t have to be yet another thing to keep up with. I just dip in and out.
I’m still a relative newbie on Twitter and I don’t think I’d use it much if I wasn’t a blogger but that’s personal preference. It still feels like someone is coming at me with a fire hydrant! If Facebook is a cafe where you meet your mates, Twitter is like a party where you meet strangers, drawn together by specific interests. I’ve already been ‘found’ by a few people with resources which would be perfect to review for this site which would never have happened otherwise. There are Hello Mornings groups on Twitter, and many churches use it to update congregation members with news.
This is how I follow several blogs easily. It’s a blog reader which is like a special e-mail account just for blogs. The app for Android is particularly great. It’s clean, elegant and means I don’t have to click around a lot of different websites – all the new posts come to me. I read them while my kids watch TV.
This is an app on my (Android) phone, also available for iphone where I listen to podcasts (although most can be heard just as easily through feedly – Sticher just has some other advantages). I wrote before about podcasts for Christian parents and I listen while I clean or cook if the kids aren’t about. It’s such a great way to feel encouraged and inspired.
So, that’s my round up of how I use social media and a couple of other apps to grow my own faith, connect with other Christians and inspire my efforts to share my faith at home in very tangible ways.
How about you? Do you love or loathe social media? Have I missed any really obvious opportunities or dangers? What are your favourite social media resources?