An Internet Pastor Is Not All the Teaching You Need

Listening to a sermon on headphones

The Bible is quite clear in its expectation that being a Christian is a community experience. From the Lord’s Prayer’s appeal to “Our Father who is in heaven,” to Paul’s frequent references to the church as a single body with Christ as the head, to the institution of the Lord’s Supper as a shared, communal sacrament, the Scriptures take it for granted that our faith entails horizontal relationships as well as vertical. And not just any sort of relationships, but relationships within an organized local church. So Paul considered it a matter of utmost important to appoint elders over local congregations (cf Acts 14:23, I Tim 3, Titus 1); the same local congregations to which he collectively addressed his epistles. The author of Hebrews made it even more explicit, warning his readers against “forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some” (Heb 10:25).

The Bible expects—or rather, directs—that the normal Christian life is a life embedded within a local church body. That is particularly important for us to remember in our individualistic American context, with an internet full of rich, compelling, biblical preaching available for streaming to our heart’s content. When I can listen to Tim Keller or Sinclair Ferguson with the click of a button, why bother with a local church where the preaching is (let’s face it) probably not as good?

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Showing Jesus to the internet

If you’re a Christian, then wherever you are is a mission field. That includes social media. If you’re on Facebook or Twitter or Google+ or anywhere at all where others can see what you say and do, then you’re testifying something about what it means to be a Christian with every key you press. That’s a sobering realization, but it’s also a pretty cool opportunity. In a world where it is hard to find openings for meaningful conversations with unbelievers, you probably have dozens and dozens of people who watch and listen to whatever you want to say, every day, through your social media account. We ought to make the most of that opportunity!

Beyond posting Bible verses
We have to think bigger than the content we post. That is a testimony, sure. But you are most compelling when you are least prepared. The give-and-take of a discussion thread shows far more about who you are in Christ and what you believe. Remember: If people know you are a Christian (and they should!), then every time you hit “Enter,” you’re showing people something about what it means to bear that name.

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