I ran into a fellow pastor the other day at Starbucks, hard at work. I figured he was working on his sermon for next week, but instead he was working on his Facebook page. To be more specific he was working on his list of friends.
“I am sorting them into lists, making sure that no one in my congregation sees anything political,” he said. “Apparently we have some long time members who have decided to leave our church, not because of anything I have said in a sermon, but because of what I have posted on Facebook. So I am sorting my lists, making sure no one in my church knows who I really am.”
It was a story that I am sure resonates with so many pastors.
A friend in another city recently told me that she really didn’t want to know what her pastor thought. “I really don’t want to know how my pastor feels about anything political. I just want to come to church and hear the gospel.”
This isn’t a new problem. The lectionary passage this Sunday is from I Corinthians 3, where Paul is bemoaning the fact that the early church had chosen up sides. Now it just seems that it has gotten worse. As technology has made it easier for us to form community, it is also dividing us into segments.
So what does this mean for church, for community? So how is any pastor to preach “with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other?”
As I walked out, I thought about the irony of my pastor friend. This one who is called to form community is being forced to shut himself off from community in order to preserve community. Is it even real? Is that what we want to incarnate in the church? Is that what we have come to?
I wonder if I need to segregate my “friend list?”