How Facebook and Social Media affects Church Attendance

Although I do not agree with his philosophy or theology - Here is an interesting article by Richard Beck on Social Media's affect on today's church attendance. The churches mentioned in the article are churches that do not most likely have fervent Body Life.

There has been a great deal of hand wringing in the Christian community about the onset of Web 2.0 relationality (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, blogs, MMOGs). The concern you often hear is that "virtual" relationships are no replacement for "authentic" relationships.

No doubt this is true. But I've done some research in this area and here's my general conclusion: Facebook friends tend to be our actual friends.

No doubt, the vast majority of the people in a friend list on Facebook are strangers, acquaintances, or old school friends you haven't seen in years. But no user of Facebook is confused enough to think that she is "in relationship" with any of these people. These are just the penumbra around the core of our Facebook interactions, connecting with people we actually know and are friends with.

In short, Facebook isn't replacing real world relationality. Rather, Facebook tends to reflect our social world. For example, in a soon to be published study some ACU colleagues and I used Facebook to predict student retention at our school (i.e., which freshmen return for their sophomore year). We found that on-campus Facebook activity was significantly correlated with measures of "real world" relationality. Further, on-campus Facebook activity also predicted who would come back for their sophomore year. For example, if you had a lot of Facebook Wall Posts you felt more socially connected and were more likely to come back to ACU for a second year. Which makes sense. Who would be posting on your Wall day to day? Sure, old friends might give you a shout out from time to time on your Wall. But for the most part Wall posts come from people who you'll actually see today. Or at least this week, month or year. The point is, you know these people. Talking with them via Facebook is authentic relationality. It's staying in touch, coordinating plans, offering up encouragement, saying a prayer, working out misunderstandings, and sharing a moment.

Over at my friend Mike's blog there was a recent discussion about why Millennials (also known as Generation Y) are leaving the church. His question was, why are they leaving? Most of the answers took aim at the church. Churches are too shallow, hypocritical, judgmental, or political. Many surveys have shown these attitudes to be widespread among Millennials. Consider the Barna research summarized in the book unChristian. Young Christians and non-Christians tend to feel that the church is "unChristian." Too antihomosexual. Too hypocritical. Too political. Too judgmental. That's how young people see "the church." And it's hard to blame them.

But my argument at Mike's blog was that the church has always been this way. Is the church of 2010 much different from the church of the '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, or '90s? I don't think so. So, yes, the church is screwed up. Always has been. The church has been a depressing constant over the generations. So the change isn't with the church. The change is with the Millennials. If so, in what way and how has this change related to the church?

The most obvious change is in mobile and Web 2.0 connectivity. Generation X didn't have cell phones. Nor did they have Facebook or text messaging. And you can't tell me that Millennials see the church any differently than Generation X saw it. Look to the right at cell phone subscriptions plotted by decade. Most have Generation X as birth dates between 1961 to 1981. Which has Gen X as college students in the years 1979 to 1999. As you can see, most Gen X'ers didn't have cellphones. And based on the sociological evidence Gen X was much more cynical and anti-establishment when compared to the Millennials. So you can't tell me Gen X'ers didn't see the church as judgmental, hypocritical, or sold-out. They did.

So what happened? Why didn't Gen X leave the church while the Millennials are leaving in droves?

The difference between Generations X and Y isn't in their views of the church. It's about those cellphones. It's about relationships and connectivity. Most Gen X'ers didn't have cell phones, text messaging or Facebook. These things were creeping in during their college years but the explosive onset of mobile devices and social computing had yet to truly take off.

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.

Finnish Youth Camp at Antaverkka - Ylojarvi, Finland - July 2010 - Raamattu Puhuu

"I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed the pillar and where you vowed a vow to Me. Now arise, get out from this land and return to your native land." Gen 31.13 (Ampl.)

Jacob was at a point in his life where he tired and was worn down by the manipulation of Laban his father-in-law. The relationship with Laban he had was a relationship that he would benefit from and would be able to twist to his meet his needs. But as it always does eventually; it changed. Instead of Jacob getting what he wanted from Laban, he was slowly deceived and taken advantage of - to where his wages were changed 10 times and he became a slave to that very situation he thought would benefit him.

This is the way it goes with youth. So often they make a deal with the world with the promise that they can freely take and enjoy without price. But slowly like Jacob with Laban - they are robbed and taken advantage of till there's nothing left.

Jacob decides to leave and Laban pursues him. The world will always go after someone who decides to leave and follow the promise of God that speaks to them from an anointed pillar from an earlier meeting with God. But thank God he intervenes and meets Laban on the way and warns him. Jacob meets Laban - they part with the very God of the Promise as their border.

It's interesting to note that all through Genesis 31 that Jacob refers to God as the God of his father and ancestors. For Jacob, God was not yet a personal intimate God to him - but rather the God of his parents that he respected and feared.

But as always, God engages Jacob - God is not satisfied with a relationship that is impersonal with us. He will engage youth with a crisis to lead them to a rich communion and promise. Esau's coming to Jacob caused fear and distress for Jacob and we see Jacob pray for the first time in chapter 32. Still he addresses God in the prayer as God of his fathers. But that changes as he begins to wrestle with Jesus Christ Himself resulting in a personal relationship with the God of Abraham. Jacob's name is changed to Israel because now Jacob knows the Person of God. He begins his adventure of faith as a young man that has power with God.

So it is I think with us. Some of us grew up in this church and we too made a deal with Laban, the world, yet had a respectful relationship with the God of our parents. But that changes as we see the true colors of the world and we hear the promise of the God of our parents,"get out of this land with Laban and I will deal well with thee."

Mat Laflamme and I visited the Finnish summer camp at Antaverkka - Ylojarvi, Finland. Many of them told us that they sensed the presence of God in the meetings, worship and games and some of them got baptized at the end of the camp. At the end of the baptism we had a spontaneous time of worship and singing as you can see in this video here::

The slideshow of the camp is below. Enjoy. (Link is here:)

10 Persecuted Church Stories from 2009 - Merry Christmas from p. Chris & Gosia Moore

As we sit to eat our Christmas dinners and open our presents with our dear families and loved ones, let's remember in prayer those in prison & are suffering for their Faith in Jesus Christ. Below is a report from Voice of the Martyrs of 10 awesome stories from 2009

Heb 13:3  Remember those who are in prison as if you were their fellow prisoner, and those who are ill-treated, since you also are liable to bodily sufferings. (Ampl)

1. Turkey: I Want to Belong to Jesus
Asli is a Christian girl in Turkey. During the summer, she invited her friend Yildiz to go to a Christian camp with her. Like most kids in Turkey, Yildiz grew up in a Muslim family. But happily, her father said she could go to the camp.

Yildiz heard the good news of Jesus for the first time at camp. Every evening, she called her father and said, “Dad, I want to belong to the Lord Jesus.”

“No way,” her father answered. But Yildiz kept calling, and finally her father reluctantly agreed. Yildiz was very happy. When she went home, she told everyone that following Jesus was the most important thing in her life. Pray that Yildiz will grow in her faith, even if others give her a hard time about it. Muslims in Turkey who become Christians often face persecution from their friends, relatives, teachers, and bosses. Pray that Asli’s parents will come to know Jesus, too.

2. Vietnam: A Letter from Dad
Rebecca and Samuel live in Vietnam, where the government controls all religious activities. Like dozens of other Christian children in Vietnam, they are separated from their father because he is in prison for his Christian activities. The children rarely see their father because the prison is far away from their home. Rachel and Samuel were thankful for this letter they received from their dad in prison:

My dear children, whom I long to see,

I write you some words today to open my heart to you. I wish you good health in God’s hands. I miss you very much. Dear daughter, be a good student. Study carefully literature, English, and math, three important subjects. Remember to teach your younger brother.

I say goodbye for now,
Your father

Rebecca and Samuel pray that their father will be able to come home soon.

3. Iran: Risky Questions
Marzieh and Maryam, Christian women in Iran, suffered under harsh prison conditions after their arrest for their faith in Jesus. Officials in Iran discussed whether Muslims who become Christians should be executed by the government. Police raided a house church, arrested the Christians, and took their Bibles. That’s the kind of thing Christians in Iran faced in 2009.

So why would anyone in Iran want to become a Christian?

A Muslim leader gave a speech at a public school in Iran. He said that the kids could write questions on pieces of paper. The students turned in 40 pages of questions. Many students asked questions about Christianity. The students said that their parents believed in the teachings of Jesus more than the teachings of Islam. Muslim kids in Iran want to know the truth, even when the truth is risky. Pray that they will find the truth in Jesus Christ.

4. Sudan: Meat for the Soul
“What does meat taste like?” asked 10-year-old Peter Diing Wol. Peter is an orphan in Sudan. A Christian from America visited the area where he lived. Peter saw the American eating beef jerky that she brought to Sudan with her. He had never eaten any meat, fruit, or vegetables. Peter and many other south Sudanese children lived on corn, rice, and other grains. Muslim attackers from the north destroyed food supplies, leaving many Christians very poor.

VOM and other groups have taken Bibles to the Christians in Sudan. Peter studied the Bible every day, even when he was hungry. The Bible was meat for his soul. “God began to show me in the Bible that Jesus is God’s son, just like I was my mother’s son,” said Peter. “One day, Jesus will come again and take us away from all this evil.” Peter wants to be a preacher someday. He began to teach preschool orphans about Jesus for practice.

Now Peter is a teenager. Christians have provided him and his orphan friends with meat to eat and a place to sleep. Peter has earned a scholarship to go to high school in Uganda, where he will study and prepare to become a pastor.
(Source: Make Way Partners)

5. Laos: Girls Stand Up to Police
Ban is a teenager in Laos. One day, a Christian man came to her village. He told everyone about Jesus. Ban wanted to belong to Jesus but did not know how. The man soon left.

In 2009, a group of Christians came to Ban’s village. They explained how people can come to Christ and follow him. Ban and five other girls accepted Christ into their hearts! They began to study the Bible and worship together.

Ban’s parents were angry. They did not want her to be a Christian. Many people in Laos worship false gods and spirits. Ban’s parents asked the police to stop their daughter from following Jesus. Two policemen and a group of other adults took the six Christian girls to a village hall and scolded them. They threatened to take the girls away from their parents or to put them in jail if they did not stop following Jesus.

The girls did not give up their faith. “We are sinners and we need Christ,” they said. “If we die, we die with faith in Christ and in his ways.” Ban is now living with a Christian friend. She does not know what will happen next in her life, but she trusts God.

6. Indonesia: Muslim Youth Leader Becomes Christian
Arief lives in Indonesia. He went to a Muslim school and learned to be a strong Muslim. Every Thursday, he taught others about the Quran at his mosque. (The Quran is the Muslim holy book, and a mosque is a building where Muslims worship.)

Arief’s mother became curious about the Bible after she saw Jesus in a dream. She and Arief began reading the Bible. After Arief finished Matthew, he started visiting a church. He decided to follow Jesus, and so did his mother! Arief’s stepfather was angry. He kicked Arief’s mother out of their home. He gave Arief and his five younger brothers and sisters a choice. They could stay or they could leave.

All the children chose to go with their mother. Now Arief reads the Bible every day and plays guitar and keyboard at a house church of 40 believers.

7. Iraq: An Eternal Home
Mary, Sarah, and Anna live in Iraq. Their parents used to be Muslims. Then one day, their dad, Ali, watched a DVD about Jesus with a Christian friend.

Ali didn’t really believe the teachings of Islam, even though he was a Muslim. He was glad to find out the truth about Jesus, and he decided to accept him as his Savior.

Since that time, Mary, Sarah, and Anna have had to move around a lot. Their grandfather kicked them out of his house after Ali became a Christian. They were kicked out of their next home after Ali shared Bibles with Muslims. Then the girls and their parents rented a house next to a mosque. When Muslims found out they were Christians, they surrounded the house. Some even stood on the roof. The owner of the house asked the family to leave.

The girls and their parents are happy that they will have an eternal home with Jesus in heaven someday, where no one will force them to move anymore.

8. China: Children “Forbidden to Believe”
Sixteen-year-old Shao Yuji helped plan and organize a summer youth camp for Christian kids in China in 2009. Chinese police raided the camp and arrested 28 kids, including Shao Yuji, and four adults. According to a witness, the police said, “It is forbidden for those under 18 to believe in Christianity.”

The police also took the kids’ cell phones, Bibles, and other belongings they brought to camp with them. They drove the Christians to the police station and beat up the youth. Then they let most of them go. But they kept the four adults and Shao Yuji for several days. For two of those days, they gave the Christians no food or water. Pray that the youth will remain strong in their faith and that the police will come to know Jesus.

9. Pakistan: Chased Away for Reading a Story
Nathan is a tenth-grader at a school in Pakistan. He helps lead a Sunday school class and youth group at his church.

One day, Nathan was reading a Christian pamphlet at school. The pamphlet told the story of Abraham and his son Isaac. Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son in obedience to God. But God spared Isaac and blessed Abraham for his obedience.

A Muslim student saw the pamphlet. Muslims believe that Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his son Ishmael instead of his son Isaac. The student and his Muslim friends were angry. They said that Nathan was insulting Islam by reading the pamphlet. (Islam is the religion of Muslims.)

The Muslims were so angry that Nathan and his family had to leave their home for their own safety and stay with Christian friends in another town. Other Christians in Pakistan have been treated the same way by radical Muslims.

10. Nigeria: Precious and Miracle
Nigeria has one of the highest rates of twins in the world. Precious and Miracle are two of those twins.

The twins have three brothers and a sister. In northern Nigeria, where their family lives, most of the people are Muslims. Christians suffer during attacks by Muslim rioters. The girls’ father died after an attack in 2006. Their mother could not care for all of her children after their father died.

Now the twins live at the Stephen Centre, a boarding school built by VOM in Nigeria. The school provides an education and a place to live for children whose families were left poor after Muslim attacks killed members of their family. “I have learned how to forgive and love others because God loves that,” said Precious, who is now 12. “His will for my life is for good and to give me a future and a hope.”

(To protect their identities, the names of some of the people on this site and some identifying details have been changed. Some of the quotes and stories have been edited and paraphrased from the original sources for clarity.)

Delayed but Determined, Displaced yet Destined.

Reykjavik, Iceland - July 30th - 8 Degrees Celsius (45 Degrees F)

It didn't look to promising as two worried mechanics made their way to
the plane engine. It was only minutes later that they, shaking their
heads walked away from the plane we were all waiting to board.
IcelandAir flight 343 would be grounded due to "technical issues" and
we would be spending the night on this chilly island.

The inhabitants of this curious island of 300,000 people still speak
"Islenska" claimed to be so close to what the Vikings spoke
that Icelanders can read and understand the writings of Leif Erickson written
centuries ago.

Beginning to pray I asked God what he had me here for on this stark
island where the terrain reminded me of the lunar surface with tufts
of grass and moss struggling to survive on it. The crystal icy water
surging over black volcanic rock seemed to properly portray the environment of contrasts here where
seafaring Vikings once lived as they plundered the coasts of Northern

With many sullen faces around suddenly it struck me it may not be very pleasant to talk to people about Christ here. I was about
to escape to my hotel room when I saw a teenager reading a Bible and
writing notes on a scrap of paper.

"is that a Bible? Are you a believer?" I asked. It was and as we began
to talk about grace and the finished work I understood that this was a
divinely ordained appointment. This teen was coming from Finland where
God had met them and began a work in their life after months of
straying "God sent you here" she said.

Sheep wander and can even be found in Iceland

Helsinki, Finland: July
24-27 - Summer Conference with P.Schaller and the Finns - "Fruit that

After not having been in Finland for 16 years it was such a blessing
to see so many still walking with God that I had known years before.
Now they had children that were in their teens and you could see the
determination in their eyes from the narrow way. We often found
ourselves surrounded by these young people and youth raps would
spontaneously start. The last night I was there I got together with 8
Finnish guys and had Finnish "Hornets" (chicken wings) - from 5.30pm
to almost midnight we rapped about the call of God. Just being with
these guys was one of the great highlights of my time there.

My last day in Finland I had the blessed opportunity to train up to
Vaasa and visit P.Tero & Riitta with their church there. Vaasa is a city of 56,000 people and 18,000 of them are international university students. It was a great blessing to see P. Tero and Riitta ministering there.

Truly fruit that remains...

Saint Petersburg Russia
July 20-23 with P.Schaller

A group of about 100 gathered together from Uzbekistan, Finland,
Baltimore & Russia in Saint Petersburg for a summer conference titled: "All
Things are now Ready" The three days we were there were packed with the
word, fellowship, and lots of Russian. Every night was finished off in
a small kitchen area in our youth hostel with a rap with 30 Russians chowing on
everything from melons to caviar. We are truly blessed people that we
can live this life.

July 11-19 eQuad / p.Love Ukrainian Summer Conference - L'viv

I traveled 7 hours with 12 teens and Bible college students with p.Love crammed in a small
mini-bus from Warsaw to L'viv Ukraine. There we had the
best summer conference with the Ukrainians. P.Love preached on the
riches of Grace and the pervasiveness of the anointing permeated us all.
One thing I don't think we'll forget is the Youth hostel with the 3
Igors and the "Freeze Mob" evangelism we did in the center of L'viv with no practice at all - you can see it here: (

Thanks to P. Misha and all those that worked hard during the conference to make it an amazing event.

Enjoy the slide shows below - these are only some of the photos taken: (if you cannot see them click here: /goye4th/2009/07/delayed-but-determined-displaced-yet.html)

L'viv Summer Conference w/ P.Love:

FinnCon '09 - Shots here from Missions' Night and the Youth meetings

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