NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A church
near Houston is leading a National Facebook Fast, calling on people to refrain
from using social media for one day, Wednesday, Aug. 25, and instead to focus
on building face-to-face relationships.
Kerry Shook, pastor of the
Woodlands Church in Texas, and his wife Chris are challenging people to disconnect
from Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, cell phones and even computers for one day in
order to focus on the lost art of personal communication.
“We aren’t bashing
technology; we’re simply issuing a challenge for participants to take one day,
set it aside and act intentionally in their relationships,” the Shooks said in
a news release.
“For one day we’re getting
back to the basics and we’re inviting everyone around the nation to do the
same. If you have to rely on these methods for schoolwork or business, of
course do so, but outside of that, get unplugged.”
Modern communication, the
Shooks said, too often becomes a complete substitute for sitting down and
spending time with people, which is vital for building deep relationships. The
popularity of social media has led to a misperception that relationships can be
managed from a distance, they said.
“We’re forgetting the
amazing power of connection found in looking into someone’s eyes, giving them
our undivided attention, sensing their body language and being in their space,”
the couple said. “Or the transformative effect of an embrace, a handshake or a
hand on someone’s shoulder. As much as we want to tell ourselves otherwise,
rewarding and healthy relationships take time and effort.”
The Shooks recommend that on
Aug. 25 people meet with a friend for face-to-face conversation, plan a family
dinner night with no electronic devices to interrupt, get acquainted with a
neighbor, take a meal to a shut-in, visit someone in the hospital or mail a
For many Americans, it is
easy to live through nearly an entire day looking at the world through glass:
the glass of a windshield, the glass of a television, the glass of a computer
monitor and the glass of a cell phone, said Don Whitney, associate professor of
biblical spirituality at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“Despite the incredible
benefits of these technologies and their abilities to help us connect with
people, they can also hinder our relationships and our spiritual health, much
as food is a blessing and yet too much of it becomes harmful,” Whitney, author
of Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, said.
Even in the New Testament,
before the advancement of technology, Whitney noted, the Apostle John knew some
things were better said in person than by letter.
“He was willing to delay
telling them until he could communicate it while looking them in the eye: ’I
have many things to write you, but I don’t want to write to you with pen and
ink. I hope to see you soon, and we will talk face to face’ (3 John 13-14; and
note that he also repeated this statement virtually word-for-word to his
readers in 2 John 12),” Whitney said in an e-mail.
“There’s a timelessness
in that example that we don’t want to lose, regardless of how sophisticated our
communication technology becomes.
“Let’s also remember that
God has given us an example of the importance of incarnate communication. He
didn’t just speak to us with a disembodied voice from heaven or send us a
written message in the Bible, as perfect and irreplaceable as the infinite
treasure of Scripture is,” Whitney said.
“Rather He came to us in the flesh —
in person. And by doing so God accomplished for us through His Son Jesus, what
written words alone could never do.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Roach
is a staff writer for Baptist Press.)