Reflections by Jeremy Alger

My church is a part of a denomination, the Church of the Nazarene. We are a part of the West Virginia North District. The Superintendent of that District is essentially my boss. One of the ways that he gets information to his pastors is through a private Facebook group. I was recently in a Zoom meeting with him where he mentioned to us that in the last few months a number of pastors have decided to leave social media because they were simply sick of the political and COVID related negativity, etc. He wanted suggestions as to how to get information out without Facebook.
I am not going to rail against social media in this column. One simple reason is that you are reading this in a newspaper! But let me just repeat one thing I heard someone else say about social media. It is not social, and it is not media. So there’s that.
Besides the question my District Superintendent asked us, I am wondering what it says to other Christians that pastors are leaving this social media space. There is a question of should a pastor get off of Facebook. You could argue that the masses on Facebook and other outlets are the very people that pastors are called to minister to. So they have no reason to leave.
My response to that is that the vast majority of people who are in that arena are not there to have their minds changed, or to be disagreed with. The people that seem so interested in the debate aspect of social media are almost never open to actually consider anything outside of their own beliefs. So ministry in that environment is not automatic.
But let’s suspend the pastor question and go to you good Christians who aren’t pastors and are on social media. Should you stay online? Should you take up the case of the pastors that have left and begin to actively minster to people online? Should you see it as a red flag that these spiritual leaders are abandoning these platforms? Should you personally change anything about who you are online?
The internet is not a fad. Barring some sort of dystopian future, technology, computers, and social media are not going away. So how can we reclaim that space? How can we be salt and light in the dark crevices of social media?
Let me assure you that it is not in argument. It is also not in the “holy” version of the cancel culture. Blocking and unfriending people who disagree with you is not a move that God would honor. The correct answer is not a steady diet of Christian memes and pictures of scripture either.
If you have found a home on social media, and you are going to stay there I suggest you evaluate your purpose and the method with which you fulfill that purpose online. Know what you’re there for, and don’t let emotions, arguments, or political agendas distract you from that purpose.
I believe that God is a redeemer. I believe that humans pervert things with sin and selfishness. I believe that God can redeem what we pervert. Social media has every potential to be the wasteland that many people say it is. It also has the potential to be a vessel that God uses to bring help, hope, and life to people who are outside of the church.
So what is your status update going to be?
Jeremy Alger is the pastor of the New Cumberland Church of the Nazarene. For more information please visit