In his book The Church of Facebook Jesse Rice quotes psychologist Janet L. Surrey as claiming, “Authentic connection is described as the core of psychological well-being and is the essential quality of growth-fostering and healing relationships. In moments of deep connection in relationship, we break out of isolation and contraction into a more whole and spacious state of mind and heart.” This is a statement that I can get behind. I understand that as beings that were created in the image of a triune God that humanity flourishes in deep, authentic, life giving community. However, it would seem that as we become more and more connected through our unlimited technologies, we are at the same time becoming more disconnected from the deep connections that Surrey is describing above.
In a world where a student may have a thousand Facebook friends who do not know them at all, it is extremely important that we encourage them to seek out and engage in meaningful community. This is a tall task to say the least, but primary for growth and maturity. To be known can be scary for anybody, but throw the insecurity and raging hormonal changes of the pre and teen years into the mix and it can be excruciatingly terrifying. We do not want our students merely connected, we want them known. We must become skilled in the art of asking good questions and following those questions up with good questions all the while trying to dig into their heart.
I would recommend Paul David Tripp’s Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hands as a resource to fostering the types of relationships that we all so desperately need. If you are a parent take time to talk to your student this week. If you are a leader, take time to talk to a student this week. Tell them that you want to know them. The deepest, darkest, ugliest parts of them, and then show them that you mean it. Our connecting technologies are an amazing gift, and when we are redeeming these things as tools to spread the gospel, they get even better. But let us always remember that we cannot mistake our Facebook community for redemptive community.
Peace out, Bueno Bye