A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life

A Weblog Dedicated to the Discussion of the Christian Faith and 21st Century Life
I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, –that unless I believed, I should not understand.-- St. Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Is Facebook Killing the Church?

Richard Beck, a prof at ACU, writes,

So why has mobile social computing affected church attendance? Well, if church has always been kind of lame and irritating why did people go in the first place? Easy, social relationships. 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!”). Even if you hated church you could feel lonely without it. Particularly with the loss of “third places” in America.

But Millennials are in a different social situation. They don’t need physical locations for social affiliation. They can make dinner plans via text, cell phone call or Facebook. In short, the thing that kept young people going to church, despite their irritations, has been effectively replaced. You don’t need to go to church to stay connected or in touch. You have an iPhone.

Sure, Millennials will report that the “reason” they are leaving the church is due to its perceived hypocrisy or shallowness. My argument is that while this might be the proximate cause the more distal cause is social computing. Already connected Millennials have the luxury to kick the church to the curb. This is the position of strength that other generations did not have. We fussed about the church but, at the end of the day, you went to stay connected. For us, church was Facebook!

The pushback here will be that all this Millennial social computing, all this Facebooking, isn’t real, authentic relationship. I’d disagree with that assessment. It goes to the point I made earlier: Most of our Facebook interactions are with people we know, love, and are in daily contact with. Facebook isn’t replacing “real” relationships with “virtual” relationships. It’s simply connecting us to our real friends. And if you can do this without getting up early on Sunday morning why go to church? Particularly if the church is hypocritical and shallow? Why mess with it?

Why are Millennials leaving the church? It's simple. Mobile social computing has replaced the main draw of the traditional church: Social connection and affiliation.

Basically, Facebook killed the church. May it Rest in Peace.
You can read the entire post, "How Facebook Killed the Church," here.


Bob Brooke said...

For ions of time multitudes have predicted the death of the church (and/or god) or mourned its demise. Your take on FB is another misguided missile from one side of the the river to the other, while the church - which is God's remnant people of saving faith in Jesus Christ - continues to float safely and with assurance in His captaining skills down the middle of the river to their eternal home.

Allan R. Bevere said...

Bob, thanks for your comments; and it is not my take on FB... if you would have read more carefully, you would have noted that I am quoting someone else, which I like to do on my blog to generate some discussion.

And if you would have checked out the entire post written by the author which I linked at the bottom of the post, you would have also noted that his laat sentence means something different from how you have taken it.

Unknown said...

It is the danger of allowing the church to become merely a filial association.The church becomes easy to replace with an updated 'social network.' The challenge is as old as faith itself, "How do we help folks find that authentic relationship with God and each other?" Sure wished there was an easy answer to that question...

Allan R. Bevere said...


I wish there were too.

Curt Bissell said...

If I understand the author correctly the old social club we called church is dead. The question I have as a local pastor and a millennial is how does the church learn to address the deep spiritual longings of people? It seems to me the church can no longer get away with the same old same old and fail to something real spiritually.
Curt Bissell

Allan R. Bevere said...


Spot on!