By: Ben Boruff
I used to hate change. And I don’t mean this in a “This isn’t my usual seat at Starbucks” way; I mean in a more conceptual way—a “This isn’t my usual method for living” sort of way.
It hit me strongest when Facebook changed formats. I understand that issues with Facebook may not fit everyone’s definition of “conceptual” issues, but I find that online social networking websites are wonderful social and personal commentaries. They can be profound tools for introspection.
What do social networking websites tell us about society?
1) We like to communicate.
2) We like to know about others.
3) We like others to know about us.
4) We like to have our space in the world (ala MySpace)
5) We like to sympathize, empathize, and be in community with others.
6) And we want others to sympathize, empathize, and be in community with us.
This list is incomplete. This list is somewhat repetitive, and may not apply to everyone, but it summarizes my thoughts about the importance of social networking websites. It also explains why I shed a tear when Facebook changed formats.
Facebook’s change was a change in the way my world communicated. To communicate via Facebook after the format change (which, for those who don’t have Facebook accounts, consisted of a more compact profile page and the added option to “like” friends’ pictures, comments, and links), I had to learn a new system. I had to adapt to communicate effectively.
To be in ministry with the world, I have to adapt as well. I must always move quickly and effectively. I have to learn new methods of ministry without losing momentum or the energy to serve. I have to understand the needs of my community and find a ministry to fulfill that need, and then I have to maintain that ministry while fulfilling another need. I must do all of this with the knowledge that society’s needs change.
It’s hard. It’s difficult to be in ministry with a society that changes so quickly. While messages of love, hope, peace, and grace are constant, almost nothing else seems to be. The issues to which we apply messages of peace are different today than those of a decade ago. The venues in which messages of hope we share are new. The methods for talking about grace are original. And the communication tools available for sharing the news of God’s love are revolutionary. Change is overbearing at times.
I recently got a Twitter account. Despite my objections, my college roommate convinced me to sign up. I didn’t understand it at first. I eventually discovered that the idea is to share short, quick messages—“tweets”—that are like small golden nuggets of conversation among friends. Instead of writing a long essay for a blog, this social networking websites asks only to be brief, and be heard. It took time for me to understand the method, but I eventually learned. Now, I use the website to get frequent updates from friends and organizations of interest. I even get updates from United Methodist organizations around the world.
Facebook and Twitter aren’t necessary for ministry. But you must ask yourself: What are the needs in my community, and how have I adapted to fill those needs? Social networking websites, although certainly helpful, may not be crucial to ministry, but change is.
See more devotions from Ben and our other Young Adult writers, or find our how you can become a writer yourself at our By Young Adults for Young Adults devotion page.