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The Paradox of the Worship Selfie - Worship Matters
Some time last year a friend who leads the music in his church texted me to express a concern. Social media has been on my mind lately. It seems it’s a great tool and a great danger. It can quickly become the “street corner” in Matthew 6. I wonder if the constant postings of ourselves, with great lighting and stuff may end up being more about us. Some people say “everyone does it,” but I’m wrestling with it as I see young guys in our church family doing it a lot. I want to make sure my motives are pure if I feel led to have an honest discussion with them. My friend’s humility in approaching this issue was commendable. Social media has become the air we breathe. A generation raised on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and YouTube thinks nothing of regularly (constantly?) letting others know what we’re thinking, what we’re reading, what we’re listening to, where we are, what we ate for dinner, and who we’re hanging out with. Especially who we’re hanging out with. Selfies with friends are a national past time. And it’s a bonus when we can post a selfie with someone famous. “Check out who I was with!” our social media proclaims. We do it with musicians, athletes, actors, and politicians. Unfortunately, we also do it with Jesus. Only the subtext seems to be, “Check out who Jesus was with!” It’s the paradox of the worship selfie. When we’re supposed to be drawing attention to the glory of the Savior, we manage to find a prominent spot in the picture. And it poses a dilemma for those of us in public ministry. It at least raises a few questions. When does my desire to show others how God is using me become more about me than God? Should my role as a musician in the church affect my use of social media? If so, how? Can I promote myself/church/ministry on social media without it being about me? How do I navigate the expectations of our culture for information and the value God places on humility? What Are We Aiming At? If we’re involved in leading congregational worship, our goal is to display the glory of God in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. That purpose is reflected in verses like these: Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together! (Ps. 34:3) My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day. (Psalm 71:8) They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness. (Psalm 145:6) Social media can blur the lines between magnifying the Lord and magnifying us, between speaking of God’s awesome deeds and our awesome deeds. And if we don’t aim at exalting Christ, it’s easy to take a lot of worship selfies with Jesus. And feel good about it. If you serve as part of a church’s leadership, even if you don’t have an official position, you’re directing people’s attention to something. But it’s not only when you stand (or sit) in front of them. It’s when you tweet, post a picture on Instagram, write a blog, or put something on Facebook. Where are we pointing people’s attention, affections, and adoration? The best we can be is signposts. Signposts are directions, not destinations. No one stops the car on a journey to gaze longingly at the signpost. They take note of where it says to go and continue on their way. So the people we lead should only only be aware of us long enough to know which way their thoughts, emotions, and affections should go: to God’s glory in Jesus Christ. The Bad If we aren’t using social media intentionally, it’s easy for us to slip into the paradox of the worship selfie. And these are some of the potential results: We look less like servants who want to reflect a crucified Savior and more like public figures who should be admired for our abilities. We end up using the church to promote our songs, our gifts, our achievements, etc. Frequent posting encourages a mindset that people need to be constantly updated on what we’re doing. Other people start to simply …