Reflections on going without…

This week there are many in my church involved in fasting and prayer in different ways. Some are giving up treats, some are giving up meat, some are giving up texting, and I am giving up tweeting.  There are two reasons for this. First and foremost- I felt convicted to do so. Secondly – this comes at a time when my work online is expanding, and therefore it costs me – so be it. Of course to say that this is a real hardship would be fatuous – others are making far greater sacrifices.  However, to say that I am missing it would be true. I have been reflecting on why that might be…

I miss the stimulus.  I miss encountering people whose professional expertise and worldview intersect only briefly with mine. In that 140-character moment they strike my mind, like flint on flint, and creative sparks fly.

I miss the humour. There’s plenty of it to be found on Twitter- quirky, odd, observational and cynical.

I miss the affirmation.  Yes, there it is – standing in print like it sits in the heart, the need to be affirmed. On an average Twitter day I can tell very quickly whether a post on this blog has been helpful or has made people think. On this particular occasion – I shall not know.

I miss the commentary. When training preachers I try to discourage them from “meta-communicating”, or “talking about talking” too much. We all quickly tire of the preacher who introduces every introduction or draws attention to every illustration. That said, the facility to comment on what you are wrestling with, or to let others know that an article is on its way if you could just get your mind clear is a real help.

I miss the company. To say that I miss my friends would be to belittle friendship and to exalt social networking. As I have said elsewhere – virtual friendship is no substitute for the real thing. That said, I do miss the stream of people who will tell me where they are or what they are up to as the day goes by.

All of this makes me wonder how many of those things are offered by the real community of the church? Do we offer the stimulus of differing viewpoints, or do we dilute them into a bland unity? Do we create opportunities to comment on life in all it ordinariness? We undoubtedly have lots of room for humour – but how good am I  at affirming you in your thing even if it is not mine?

Its good to reflect on these things…and it means I shall be a whole lot more sympathetic next time I see a teenager pining for Facebook too!