New online course gives Christians social media roadmap • Biblical Recorder

Words and information can be spread around the world in an instant. The adage that a lie travels faster than the truth has never been more evident. For Christians, this fact presents both an incredible opportunity and an important dilemma. With the click of a button, the gospel can reach millions, but so can heresy, slander, or even one false, awkward sentence.

To minister to pastors and Christians during this challenging time, the North American Mission Board (NAMB) and Send Network have joined forces Dan darlingauthor of A way with wordsto create a free web course at NewChurches.com named “Using online conversations for good‘ is the subtitle of Darling’s book.

“I look forward to working with NAMB and Send Network to help pastors and church leaders use social media in redeeming ways,” said Darling, director of the Land Center for Cultural Engagement at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. “We’ve seen social media have the power for good and evil over the past few years and it’s important for leaders to understand how to lead in this digital age, but also to help their employees how to lead in lives in a digital age.”

The course fills a need by providing answers to questions about the value and strategy of online behavior.

“Many pastors and ministry leaders are concerned about social media engagement. They’re asking about what their online presence should be and how they interact with people,” he said Trevin wax, NAMB Vice President for Research and Resource Development. “There are concerns about how to address these issues with members in their communities who may be betraying their Christian testimony online.

“Dan Darling is someone who has been a role model for charitable behavior online over the years. So we wanted to share his wisdom and allow him to guide people through the book he has written on the subject.”

The fact that God brought creation into being and that Jesus, the Son of God, is revealed in scripture as “the Word” in the Gospel of John underscores the power of words. In the course, Darling walks through the myriad of passages in Scripture that speak of the believer’s need to understand the meaning of their words and use them wisely.

Words had clear, demonstrable power in the act of creation, but when mankind led the world into a post-fall state of sinfulness, words did not lose their power. Instead, they gained the ability to destroy.

“After mankind has fallen into sin, words can now be used to either hurt or inspire,” says Darling in the course’s introductory video. “In a fallen world, we often don’t even understand the meaning of what we say or, in this age, what we type or type on our phones.”

The key feature of the web-based course is the presentation of what the Bible says about how Christians can and should use their words, and Darling’s practical application of these biblical principles to contemporary online communication challenges.

“It’s been said that a church’s website is the new front door to the church,” Darling said, “but increasingly the social media presence of pastors is where people look first to get a sense of the mission and to get the ideas of a church. That’s why it’s important for leaders to engage and engage well.”

For new church plants, this digital front door is a primary tool for building relationships in a church that lacks a strong gospel presence.

Pastors and Christian leaders may be tempted to avoid online communication altogether given the obvious pitfalls, but when used with biblical wisdom, the use of online platforms will also create opportunities for gospel preaching.

“The church has always wrestled with technology throughout its 2,000-year history,” Darling said. “We must recognize that technology is both an act of creation and can be corrupted by demise. I hope this series helps equip and provoke important conversations.”

Darling’s Course is freely accessible along with a growing catalog of others NewChurches.coma website operated by NAMB’s broadcast network, designed to support church planters and pastors.

(EDITORS NOTE – Brandon Elrod writes for the North American Mission Board.)

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