I’m not the kind of person who typically rants against the evils of technology, Facebook, and social media. Technology, Facebook, and social media aren’t inherently evil. I love technology. I use Facebook. I tweet. I use Facetime on my iPhone. I make video calls on Skype. I send text messages. I use Yahoo chat. I use Google chat. If there’s an electronic medium of communication, chances are I’m using it or have used it. So, let’s just clear the virtual airwaves here. This is not a rant.
Let’s Meet Face to Face: Three Reasons Why We Need Genuine Personal Interaction
Instead, it’s a kindhearted suggestion, spoken as much to motivate myself as it is to encourage the church at large. To state it simply, face to face interaction is important for Christian fellowship, discipleship, and evangelism. Let’s do it more.
Why is face to face interaction so important for Christians? It’s not enough to just say “the early church did it!” (The early church, if you will remember, also wore different clothes, ate different food, held different jobs, and lived in a different millennium.) There are other reasons, many reasons actually, why face to face interaction is important. I’ll mention just three.
- Face to face interaction allows true openness. No matter how genuine you attempt to be online, there is some degree of artificiality to your interaction. Due to the partly-concealed nature of online communication, you can portray yourself as you want to be seen. Sure, artificiality is also possible in face-to-face interaction, but it is less likely. Openness allows edification.
- Face to face interaction is taken more seriously. When someone gets in their vehicle or on the train, spends money on a ticket or on gas, and takes time to move themselves to a different location, that’s some effort. The more effort we expend in a given activity, the more important that activity becomes. Thus, if someone is spending forty minutes to drive to a certain church each Sunday morning, that indicates how important that particular church is to her. Along the same lines, when you meet with others in person, everyone present expects something meaningful to happen. You’ll listen. You’ll think. And when that happens, quality fellowship can take place.
- Face to face interaction builds relationships better. The genuineness of face to face meetings is building material for solid relationships. The shared experience of meeting at a kitchen table, a coffee shop, a restaurant, or a park help to weave the intangible fabric of strength and depth in a relationship. You can’t get that looking into an HD camera built in to the LCD screen of your Macbook Pro. You can’t IM a handshake. You just can’t. Face to face interaction allows a deeper layer of communication, enriched by body language and facial expressions. I’m not trying to get too touchy-feely, but there are just some things that can’t be replaced by technology. At least not yet. Maybe not ever.
The Christian life is about forming relationships, and building community. Whether you’re meeting for coffee and prayer with a Christian brother from your local church, having an evening meal with a neighborhood family for evangelism, or having a casual Bible study in a local park, face to face interaction can be a part of it. Building community and forming relationships best happens face to face.
I’m not going to uninstall Skype anytime soon. And I certainly will respond if you happen to IM me during the day, but I also need face to face interaction. I think we all do.