I am aware that these new cultural networks (fads?) aren't true community but for some reason, people choose to reveal parts of themselves on Facebook and Twitter that they never would in the real world.
I know many church guys who wouldn't blast people with the information that they went clubbing and drinking last weekend, but on their Facebook I can instantly see pictures of them drinking a Miller Lite with a young adult girl on their laps laughing like they just heard the funniest joke. That scene is a new revelation to me about that person.
Also, with the ever present "status update" people can reveal what they're doing, when and where (thanks to the GPS locator they turned on their Twitter) they're doing it within split seconds.
I am one to say that these people (pre-Facebook) had a desire to let people know who they were, but didn't know how to reveal it, due to fear of rejection, fear of consequences, or just plain embarassment. Now people can reveal who they are, what they like and what they prefer in life.
People want to be known. Do things like Facebook replace the face-to-face authentic relationship? NO! However it strikes me as extremely interesting that they choose to reveal stuff there as opposed to "real life."
My premise remains though, people want to be known. There is a deep longing to be an open person, where people will love you no matter what. There is a deep longing for ultimate community where everyone shares everything and still loves each other. This I contend is where we as a church should desire to go. We should be a safe haven for people longing to be known.
When they're known and loved no matter what, people will ask why in fact we love them no matter what. They will wonder what's different about this community than all others they've experienced. We then share the truth about Christ. This is not about tricking anyone, because if they never ask (which when we live like Christ rarely happens) there is no need to shove Jesus down their throats. When they come to church they will hear about Jesus in the sermons and experience Him in community by haning with us.
The truth about revealing oneself is that even in safe places, you can only truly reveal your true, whole and authentic self to few people. There will be times when you need the company and counsel of a few and that is OK and very Scriptural. The need to reveal yourself is deep rooted and I challenege any and everyone to choose people they can and will reveal themselves to. Heck, Jesus needed to reveal his whole self!
In Luke 9:28-36 we see Jesus reveal Himself to Peter, James and John:
"Now about eight days after these sayings he took with him Peter and John and James and went up on the mountain to pray. And as he was praying, the appearance of his face was altered, and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were talking with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. Now Peter and those who were with him were heavy with sleep, but when they became fully awake they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. And as the men were parting from him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good that we are here. Let us make three tents, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah"— not knowing what he said. As he was saying these things, a cloud came and overshadowed them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. And a voice came out of the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!" And when the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and told no one in those days anything of what they had seen."
Jesus revealed His full self (well as much as he could without killing them) to these guys. Jesus wanted to be fully known by these three. He bared the truth about who he was to them and I have no doubt it solidified their friendships. If Jesus is about revealing oneself, why the heck has the church missed out on this?
I know there are several reasons, too much to get into here but we must move to a place where the church is safe for people to be open and authentic...no more faking it...because if we keep faking it, this younger generation will walk away from the church and God.