So, we decided to make the Waratah facebook page a public page and obviously, folks have liked some of the content as we’ve had a few requests to join. Firstly, that’s hugely encouraging and it’s great to see crew liking the content.
However, some who have tried to join may have noticed that their request has been denied the next time they check. There are a few good reasons for this that I thought I would address here rather than having to go over them for every single case.
The basic rule that we have for membership of the Waratah Church facebook page is that you have to be attending the Church on Sundays, or during the week at one of its ministries to be involved. (As in actually on the role.) Of course, this also means that upon leaving, we do also have to remove past members, just like removing someone from the partnership role when they move on. We’re not trying to be nasty, or elitist so I want to share the reasons behind this policy here
1.The risk of fake community.
Read Schuchard is a professor of communications at Wheaton College Illinois who also happens to be a Christian and pretty up with churchy stuff. He makes the argument that one of the worst things that is happening in western Christianity is that as more and more Christian content is loaded on-line these days, there’s less and less reason to actually come to Church. We’ve made our own bed a bit here because we have made Church so much about the ‘content’ (read: preaching) rather than the community in western evangelicalism.
It’s hard to blame people for waking up one day seeing all their favorite podcasts/online sermons as replacing actual live sermons. You can see how small the jump is to then say, “well if I can get Christian music and teaching from the comfort of my own home, maybe I can also even get my community fix at home too.”
The problem is that online communities….aren’t. At least not on their own. In a world where the most overused word is ‘community’, Waratah Church is serious about it. If you want to be part of the Waratah Church community, come and be part of the Waratah Church community. If you live miles away from Waratah, find a Church where you live where the real God is worshipped and his real Word is preached and get into it.
2. No one can serve two masters.
Someone says, “but what about folks who used to be at Waratah and are now at a different church and still want to keep in touch?” First of all, you don’t need to be a member to see content. That’s why we made it a public group, so you can still see what’s going on.
However, even then, as a general rule, I’m going to say that you’re more spiritually healthy in the long run if you don’t. Jesus said no one can serve two masters. That is absolutely repeatable in the Church context. No one, (and I have confronted lots of people on this, even others in ministry settings) No one can serve two churches. Don’t go to one Church for one activity and then another for a different one. That’s completely foreign to the New Testament even if that was simply because the ‘other’ church was 3 weeks’ walk away.
Likewise, if you’re going to one Church physically, don’t be a member of another online. doing so compromises the experience of both and it invites comparison. I know that sounds really, really picky. But it’s not. Our external lives are run by our internal thought lives and nothing compromises our experience of Church and our worship of God therein, like thoughts of comparison breeding negative vibes in the background.
3. Church discipline.
Yep, it’s a thing. It happens. Ministries at Waratah, including Sunday mornings, are run under the direction of leaders who are empowered to have authority over various facets of the Church. Meanwhile, the board of Elders is responsible for the spiritual health and discipline of the Church. My point is, in a real community, there are structures of accountability.
The greatest myth about Chruch discipline is that it doesn’t happen these days. Just because we don’t get up and shame people publically and make a show of it, doesn’t mean tough conversations have not been had. The thing is, it’s all about ultimately reconciliation and forgiveness.
Now social media provides enormous scope for inappropriate behavior with zero accountability. We’ve all had experience with at least one ‘keyboard warrior’. When a disagreement or a grievance exists between two people in the actual community, phone calls can be made, meetings set up, mediation can happen and if necessary, action taken in various forms.
But suppose one person in the ‘online community’ that is 1000 miles away from the actual community, posts at/about a person in the online community that also happens to come to Church. How is there any scope for accountability to be exercised? In lieu of actual face to face contact, you’ve got a recipe for an online keyboard war.
You see where I’m going.
4. To sum up.
So there you go, we’re not trying to be inconvenient nor picky. One man’s picky is another’s vigilant. If there is one thing that the New Testament letters to Churches teaches us it’s that Satan will do and use anything to destroy Churches and we’d rather be vigilant at the beginning than having to clean up a mess at the end.
Do yourself a favor, commit fully to one Church community 100%. If that’s us, wonderful, if it’s not, wonderful. As long as you’re engaging in a real Christian community, everyone’s a winner.
Lastly and again, by all means, feel free to ‘drop by’ and check out what is happening at any time. That’s why we’re a public group….just like the Church on any given Sunday.