Opinion: Why I need to use Facebook
Written by Marja Coons-Torn
April 18, 2011

I'm trying to become more regular about at least reading my Facebook page, if not posting a bit more often. Of course, I'm a little wary about it because I'm one of those people that got hacked a month or so ago. I trust I've taken every precaution necessary to avoid any such damage in the future...

Still, I want to remind myself to be on Facebook, not because I don't have enough to do and need to kill some more time, but rather because it's such a good source for connecting. And I learn things!

This morning I logged on and discovered that my friend Martin Bailey had "liked" a picture of a bicycle rack at UCC church. It was whack on the side of the head - why hadn't that occurred to me? Every UCC congregation should have a bike rack outside their building. It's a whole new evangelism tool!

Now, I'm not naive. I do know that most people drive to church. Many drive miles to return to the church of their youth or the church that meets their needs. Some drive past two or three UCC churches in the process and who knows how many churches of other stripes. So what's the good of putting up a bike rack for people over sixty who drive 3-12 miles to get to their place of worship?

Well, just this - most, but not all, of our congregations still have neighborhoods. It's just not the same neighborhood that we knew when we were young. What if - oh radical idea! - we made it easy for the people in our neighborhoods to visit? A bicycle rack says you are welcome and expected here, even if you don't drive a car.

Perhaps the people in our neighborhoods don't look like us anymore. Perhaps when they are talking to each other, they speak a language we don't understand. Perhaps they don't understand our order of worship. They might change us a bit, perhaps by bringing crying children into our worship, or asking if we could sing some livelier songs.

Maybe they would welcome an invitation by Facebook or Twitter to attend our service. Maybe if we posted a YouTube video of worship or something else we are doing they might feel more comfortable about approaching our sometimes forbidding looking buildings. I can imagine a congregation putting up a "video tour" of their building for just that purpose.

So I'm making a new pledge to myself. I'm going to log on to my Facebook page more often - not just to see what my friends are up to, but to see what I might learn from someone near or far. Let's be the church that's not so old we can't learn new things. And that includes learning what Facebook and church have to do with each other.


The Rev. Marja Coons-Torn is Conference Minister of the UCC's Penn Central Conference.

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