Believers should consider Christian social networking as a way to meet other Believers. Socializing with other Christians can be very encouraging and provides a way to learn about people from other cultures. Being part of a large group of people who believe the same way as you do can increase one's learning and spiritual growth. Christian social networking can happen through one's church or bible study group. Another way Believers can socialize is by finding a group online. Communicating with others online can be done through dating sites, chat room forums, blogs where people post their opinions, and sites that invite others to find pen pals.
All types of people from many different cultures and social groups participate in Christian social networking over the Internet. Web sites that allow a person to set up a web page about self are becoming increasingly popular online. Some of these places are specifically set up for Believers. Anyone can access them in they have a computer and Internet service. These are generally promoted by those who become members by emailing everyone in their address book to join. The links and advertisements that are found on the pages are ones that should interest people who love the Lord. Perusing a site that has advertisements and links to places that do not promote the Lord should be approached with caution.
Church is usually a good place to participate in Christian social networking. Many churches have single's groups that encourage participation of Christian singles. Those who are divorced and widowed are also welcome to join the group and participate in the planned activities. Many have activities a couple times per week. Groups that meet in bars or places that are unbecoming for a Believer should be avoided. Drinking too much alcohol can lead to behavior that is not generally practiced by someone who loves the Lord. Groups that meet in other single's homes and have a bible study or talk about the Lord would certainly seem more Christian than meeting at a bar. Activities that are worthy of considering might include fishing, hiking, bowling, sight-seeing, driving, tennis, softball, volleyball, dinner, seeing family rated movies, and so on.
Online communities provide ways for people to interact that have similar interests and activities. Christian social networking is a place for Believers to interact with others that live in faraway places especially with those who love the Lord. The interactions can be very uplifting as people realize that there are people in other places who are going through similar trials and facing hardships in life the same way by putting their faith in Christ. Online communities also exist for professionals and businesses, healthcare workers including physicians and patients. As these types of social networks are growing over the Internet we may see many more specialized sites for many different other venues and causes in the future.
Online dating services for Christians are places where Believers meet and chat or send email to each other. Dating forums are often considered places where Christian social networking takes place. There are many sites online that are considered dating forums that charge members to communicate with other members. A few on the Internet are free and do not charge members to use their services. These allow people to send emails, ecards, or engage in instant messaging. Many sites claim that they are Christian sites and these sites encourage users to turn in others who do not communicate in a decent manner. Profanity, harassment, sexual language, and so on is not allowed nor is it tolerated in communication with other members.
God's word is used over and over again on many Christian social networking sites as Believers share scripture, prayer, and get involved in discussions. "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12). In addition, using God's word and sharing a personal testimony could cause someone who is unsaved to become saved or it might lead someone back to Christ who has gone astray. This can happen online, in someone's home during a bible study, during an activity with other Christians, or even while dining out with those in one's social network. We never know when our witness for the Lord can cause healing, lead to salvation, encourage someone to continue living for the Lord, or touch them in a profound way. These are very good reasons to become involved with other Believers.
People who are active in social networks over the Internet, as a rule, take these communications very seriously. They use this type of forum to voice their opinions, beliefs, and political views, among other things. Christian social networking is largely based upon people who all share their love for Christ. Those that take it very seriously have a lot of good information on their site about accepting Christ, how it has changed their own life for the better, and how important it is to continue in fellowship with Christ. A personal testimony can be powerful to someone who is going through a similar circumstance. Seeing that another human being was able to find peace in the midst of a troubling storm is encouraging and shows the person who is suffering that there is a way to find peace.
Christian Social NetworksChristian social networks are important for people who are looking for like-minded individuals to form friendships, dating and marriage relationships and in some cases, business partners. For those people who are attempting to follow biblical mandates, it's important that any meaningful relationship be one that involves two people committed to the discipleship of Jesus Christ. This all begins with a passage in II Corinthians 6:14 that says: "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?" Some people would view this as a form of religious narcissism, but is a way that God keeps a lot of heartache and trouble from occurring to His children. Christian online networks are designed to help people follow that biblical mandate. Sadly, in many cases this commandment is not followed by those in their first relationships, but learn the hard way that God knows what he is doing with such an edict. The tenor of the wording makes it clear that this is not a suggestion but a command.
The principle of being unequally yoked uses the imagery of oxen being arbitrarily hitched together which ought to tip the reader off that these mandate doesn't necessarily mean ordinary friendships. In fact, studies have proven that within two years of becoming a Christ follower, most people's stable of friendships are totally Christian, rendering that person almost useless in winning other people to Jesus Christ. The tendency to run to where one is most comfortable is certainly a huge downside to the concept of Christian social networks, and something that will be discussed later in this lens. But the tenor of the discussion of being unequally yoked is found in permanent types of relationships, whether the association be long term dating, and marriage or business associations. The clash of two different agendas when coming to money, values, child rearing and church involvement can cause huge rifts in relationships that cannot be overcome. So in this vein, Christian social networks can have a very strong part to play in doing things God's way.
Christian social networks can offer believers an opportunity to find suitable people to date and marry. There is always the objection that some Christ- following singles have to the idea of dating only other Christians. The command certainly does narrow the playing field quite dramatically. But the danger is in giving one's heart away to someone who does not have the same faith commitment. Once the affection has been transferred to another person who is clearly not a Christian, the unequally yoked prohibition is typically whitewashed as not being as important as the command once was and something that "can be worked out after we are married."
Certain Christian social networks that are specifically designed for dating do not make one's statement of faith a cornerstone of its provided service. This allows people who may be nominal church attendees but not disciples of Christ to post a profile. For many people, there has never been a concerted effort to understand the difference between calling oneself a Christian, and being committed to a lifestyle that models Christ-likeness. This failure by some Christian social networks to help people differentiate between the two is something of which a person using such a network ought to be aware. But these online network providers are not just for dating, they can be for discovering business contacts. If anyone was ever "yoked" with someone else, it is in a formal business partnership. And for some Christian businesspersons, finding a Christian business man or woman with whom to have a long-term business relationship can be a daunting task.
Imagine two persons, who have agreed to open a business together, each putting up their life savings to make it work. This business is a partnership hammered out in the crucible of good economic times, but then things sour and now there is an opportunity for the company to pull itself out of a long slump by doing some unethical business with a competitor. The Christian partner wants to trust God to get the company through by continuing to do above board business practices, even though the reality may mean closing the business doors. The other partner wants to do whatever it takes to survive. And suddenly, this isn't really about business but about a life philosophy of trusting God or playing circumstantial ethics. Unequally yoked suddenly becomes a noose around both of these business person's necks and the opportunity to find a suitable Christ-committed business partner on one of the Christian social networks only a memory in the distant past.
For many people, there is a calm and serene aspect to running to a Christ centered website to find friends, conversation and support. And sadly, for some people, these things may be more easily found at a website than at a local church. But for others, the running to these Christian social networks are only an excuse to stay out of the struggle for the minds of hearts of those who have not surrendered their hearts and lives to Jesus Christ. This struggle is very real as Paul described it: "For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." (Ephesians 6:12) The Christian is called to prepare for battle and be on the ocean fighting each day for the minds and heart of humanity, not remaining in safe havens where the battle has already been won. Christians must carefully balance out the need for rest and connection with their own (Christ-centered network websites) and getting out there on the high seas doing the work God has intended for us to do.