Confessions of a Missionary: Social Media is a Stage

If you visit Piedmont International University you will find in their chapel a small stage used for services, and musical productions.  It isn’t anything overwhelming (just a basic one made of wood) but it’s precious to me because it was my stage.

You see it was on that simple stage that I perfected my ability to entertain people, or make them laugh during my four years of College.  It began with trying out for drama’s during the school year, but my entertainment career really took off with the birth of a “skit announcement.”

Like most Colleges Piedmont shared announcements almost every day at the beginning of chapel to make sure Students were aware of changes that had been made.  Usually these were simply read, but on special occasions a three-minute skit was allowed to emphasize an upcoming event…and of course it was always supposed to make people laugh.

Halfway through my freshman year I started doing skit announcements with my close friend (and one of the funniest men I know) Rick Clinard.  We actually took the responsibility of entertaining students with our short skit very seriously, and eventually people would start laughing  when they said “Rick andJohn have a special announcement” in anticipation of what we would do.

There isn’t enough room here to explain all of our adventures but some of my favorites were dressing up like cupid (complete with a large cloth diaper pinned over a pair of kaki pants) and running down the aisle screaming, “I’m in love.”  Performing a rap written by myself entitled “Only One More Day” (it has since been retired).  And we came very close to my walking on stage with a box of Lucky Charms dressed in green and saying, “They’re magically delicious” (I’ll give you a moment to wipe off whatever it was you just spit on the computer screen.

I really miss that stage at Piedmont sometimes, but not for the reason you may think.  It was awesome to hear people laugh at my jokes or acting but the true joy came from making friends forget their cares.  Life is filled with stressful situations that can be overwhelming, so I love using the ability for entertainment to take away that feeling of stress for a few moments (and hopefully they laugh a bit too).

What does that have to do with Social Media?  Simply for a long time I’ve used websites like Facebook or Twitter as a stage on which I entertain people and help them forget their troubles.

The greatest use of Social Media is to share ourselves with friends or loved ones all around the world.  The question for each of us then is, “What person do we share with others?”  For me that person is “entertaining John” the individual who is always funny or uplifting, never has a bad day, and shares at least three moving ministry stories each week.

Here’s the problem…I’m not always entertaining John.

Now in many ways I am that laid back humorous person, but there are parts of my life that aren’t all that entertaining.  Like struggling with a difficult Visa situation, lack of an active social life, my fear of confrontation, or  hiding weaknesses. These are almost never shared online because they don’t fit in with the entertaining John persona.  If they are shared it’s usually done on the blog written in a funny or entertaining way.

Eventually it got to the point where I would never share anything online unless it was entertaining or funny, which leads directly to the danger of an Invisible Facebook Entourage covered yesterday.  Of course it isn’t necessary to send updates about everything going on in our lives, but refusing to be share anything that isn’t funny gives a false perception or view about the kind of person I am.

Facebook is meant to be a place of sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of life.  For it’s as we share our own brockenness that others can see the Grace of God.

Published by

John Wilburn

Church planter, teacher, and disciple-maker in Barrouallie St. Vincent

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