It's official. On Friday, April 11th I will be a member of Reddit for one whole year. The site marks the occassion by putting a small cake by my user name. Most of that time, over the past year, has been spent on the /r/Christianity sub.
While I am still a noob in many respects, I wanted to mark this occasion by sharing some very important lessons I have personally learned over that time. Because I will be sharing this with the /r/Christianity sub tomorrow, I want to stress, these are not lessons for them, but us.
We treat the internet like we did missionary work a hundred years ago: poorly.
The modern missionary movement had an ah-ha moment with one little sentence. "God has always been there. " The focus turned from bringing our Western style Christianity to them, but, instead, trying to help them discover how God has always existed within their culture. It means Christian worship looks different in, let's say, Africa, than it does in central Europe or the United States.
Up until that moment missionaries were practically trying to cram their culture with Christianity down the throat of the mission field. Then they were confused when things like the Boxer Rebellion took place. The biggest change that happened with, "God has always been there," was the realization that the missionaries needed to learn the culture of the people they were trying to Evangelize to, and ultimately create healthy relationships with the people.
(Some of y'all over seas might see the obviousness in what I am about to say.) From an American perspective, the Christian culture is no longer the general culture. We need to realize we are not the societal 'normal' anymore and we need to treat our nearby missions like we do our overseas missions: with understanding of the outside culture.
Christians have taken Romans 12:2 (Don’t be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you can figure out what God’s will is—what is good and pleasing and mature.) and in their effort to follow the scripture became poor missionaries.
Let me explain: If a random person were to walk into an American, Sunday worship they would be met with songs they have never heard, cadences they won't understand, and traditions that don't make any sense. If they are a mega-church they will be necessarily ignored, and if they are a dying church they will be overly greeted. A hundred years ago we could return to our home churches and we could have our version of Christianity and we they could have theirs. That can't work anymore. Not when the culture we are reaching out to is supposed to be our own.
What does that have to do with the internet? People want to learn about God, but they cannot connect to our Christian culture in church. They turn to the internet, and Reddit. In response Christians try to take their culture, praise songs and all, and put it online. When it is ignored or down voted, they don't understand why. Which leads me to #2:
Most churches become the most despised things on Reddit: Dumpers, or also known as, Spammers.
Before you are all offended, in the beginning, I was a dumper. Dumping is when you take your sermon, text, whatever and just dump it to the site and leave. If you do this, you are a poor evangelizer and are wasting the internet. Think about it this way. You are bringing a God given message. To do this you must know the community you are giving the message to. Just a hint, this community (Reddit, YouTube, or otherwise) isn't going to sit around and watch you speak in front of a camera for 45 minutes. They are also not going to give your message the time of day if you copy and pasted it into a blog. ( Fig Tree's most popular meditation was posted almost a year ago. Hardly any pictures; mostly words. There are exceptions to everything. Legally Speaking.)
Usually it doesn't matter if you created a turd or spun gold, if you are not connecting with how they connect you've just posted a big pile of nothing. I saw a crazy statistic last week: 2 million blogs are written everyday and almost as many videos are posted. No one, even fellow Christians, are going to give your work the time of day when there is that much highly crafted content out there. Sorry.
The Christianity sub. doesn't take dumping lightly and it can get you blocked if you are not willing to contribute to the group in something other than your posts. Pinterest naturally rewards the pinner who pins other's work because the other sees it. Occasionally they will follow up and pin something of yours. Facebook is all about relationship, and dumping just goes down the feed and is lost. Consider the community. They are all different and exciting in their own way.
If you are not willing to stick around and show you care, why should they care? The internet is full of people who just want to know they are worth something. To me, it seems more important to spend time raising other people up and showing support. So maybe my page hits are down one week. It's not as important as getting out there and showing others they are awesome.
As an extra note: the moderators at /r/Christianity need to be thanked on a daily basis. They are working hard to make sure the sub over there is a safe place for people to educate, share prayer concerns, ask questions, and discuss outside sites. It doesn't look like Christianity has looked for the past 10 or so decades. I think that is a good thing.