Thursday, June 30, 2011

What we learned from Rob Bell...

Tim Challies has written a very interesting article called "Bell, Hell and What We Did Well". In conclusion he gave five lessons that we should learn from the whole situation (though the whole thing is worth reading):
  • The Power of Social Media - Those of us who use social media need to understand that it gives us immense power. That does not apply only to just those of us who have popular blogs, but to all of us who use Facebook or Twitter or any other form of social media. Few of us have much power alone, but as a network we wield a great deal of influence. In this case, it was enough to create the news, enough to create a bestseller and enough to cause many people to reaffirm their commitment to a doctrine. Be aware of the power you have through something so simple as a Twitter or Facebook account!
  • The Power of Leaders - There are new rules and new responsibilities when it comes to leadership in a digital age—an age in which news travels with unparalleled speed. No one foresaw that John Piper’s quick tweet “Farewell Rob Bell” would prove the catalyst for a great firestorm. Christian leaders need to understand the power of social media and recommit time and again to choosing their words carefully. The books of Proverbs and James and all they have to say about the power of words remain steady guides. (And again, do not read this as a criticism of John Piper)
  • The Temptations of Social Media - In an age of fast-paced news cycles, we need to be very careful that we do not neglect our responsibility to think carefully and prayerfully before we respond to controversy. The faster the pace, the greater the temptation becomes to emphasize immediacy over thoughtfulness. I look to myself as one who has too often failed in this regard. Where there are fast news cycles, instant communication and large audiences you will face constant temptation.
  • The Power of the Reformed - Whatever this New Calvinism is or is becoming, it has become sufficiently cohesive that it now wields a lot of influence. Our influence online and through social media is far greater than our influence in the real world I think, but since news now travels at the speed of light through social media channels, we have the ability to speak and to speak loudly. The world is watching us.
  • We Can Be Used - We need to be aware that publishers will try this again. Other publishers watched this situation play out and they are going to try to do the same thing. Our challenge is to find a way to respond well but to respond in such a way that we do not end up exacerbating a problem even while we seek to solve it. In the case of Love Wins we caused many people to buy and read a book even while seeking to tell them that it was unbiblical. I would like to think that there is a better way, though at this point I do not know what it could be.

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