By now, in the year 2013, social media is ubiquitous. A pastor or church leader who does not have at least a Facebook or Twitter profile – let alone an Instagram feed, LinkedIn profile, or Tumblr account – is in the minority. But the more avenues of online connectivity we have, the more digital noise threatens to muddy our lives. How should Christians – church leaders especially – approach the use of social media?
Leonard Sweet’s latest book, Viral, addresses this issue and, quite frankly, hits a home run. In Viral, Sweet analyzes the generation gap that exists between the “Gutenbergers” and the “Googlers.” He examines the changes that have taken place culturally, and makes the case for why the church absolutely cannot be left behind in the world of cyber-communication. Social media, Sweet contends, provides an incredible outlet for connectivity and storytelling. Tweeting and status-updating are a matter of discipline and focus that stem from a mission of reaching into the lives of other people. “[It] is a discipline of transparency. The knowledge that my tweets will be read by thousands of people keeps me more focused on my mission, makes me less whiny and complaining, and keeps me more sensitive to what others may need to hear. It’s a discipline to serve others and to simply express what I’m feeling.”
Sweet makes the case that even the simple things are important, just as every relationship is made up of both surfaces and depths. The important thing is to tell your story; we are to leverage the tools at our disposal to both draw others into our story and to engage in theirs. After all, Sweet reminds us, echoing the words of Plato, “If you want to change the world, don’t bring in the politicians who make the laws; bring in the poets who tell the stories.”
Viral is an invitation and exhortation for the Church to share the greatest Story ever told with a world who is already listening.
I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review