Monday, February 8, 2010

The limitations of media

twitter is down I had much to write to you, but I would rather not write with pen and ink. I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face.

3 John 13-14a

John had a preference for personal care whenever possible and one of the reasons this letter is so short is because John planned on visiting his friend Gaius very soon. The postcard was to encourage him to hang on until then. This was a situation best dealt with “face to face”. There are times when written communication breaks down. This was one of them.

I wonder what the apostle John would do in ministry in this day and age? He would probably take advantage of it, no doubt. 3 John is as close to an Instant Message as possible in the 1st century! But He would recognize the limits, which many people do not seem to do now. I like the information and communication available to us now. I remember vividly when exactly I knew that computers and the internet had changed the way we talk. It was in 1995. I logged onto my AOL account to check my email. It was my window into the world and there on the home page I learned that the Oklahoma City bombing had occurred just minutes earlier. People were already commenting on it. The speed of communication dramatically changed. It is good, and it is not so good.

Today, I can use Twitter and other social network sites to connect with more people in a day than every before. Many I have not seen face to face in years. Some I have never met personally. Social networking is virtually void of emotional cues (smileys aside). :-) It is short, particularly when I twitter. It is instant and far-reaching. That gives it some value despite these clear limitations. In that sense it is a lot like this first century “tweet” from John.

Face to face is always better though. We should never forget that. We should always minister the gospel through preaching, personal ministry, and real conversation. But we should feel free to also utilize and not abuse the media we have available to us. It can assist the message. It cannot be the message.

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