First United Methodist Church, Lewistown, PA 17044  ~  717-248-4618   ~  fumc200@outlook.com

Image driven society

July 27, 2016

A picture is worth a thousand words (actually more like 4,667,100). This was never more true than yesterday. Our office manager, on his way to work, noticed a dog roaming the streets near the church and followed closely along. After assessing the situation, he corralled the lost dog and brought him to the office. The bright blue collar and well mannered behavior suggested this dog belonged to someone.  A call to the local radio station began the search for the owner of this beautiful Shepherd.

    Upon my arrival, I too was struck by the calm nature of the dog and immediately my wheels began to turn. What if we took a picture of the dog and turned out some flyers to pin to telephone poles in town? Or, maybe we could get a car with the old time PA system and drive around town proclaiming, "We have your lost German Shepherd, please call this number to claim him." 

Doh!  Wait. This is the 21st century!

    Whipping out my smartphone, I approached this dog and asked to take his picture. He walked over looking up at me with a bit of understanding in his eyes and I snapped a few pics. I then proceeded to drop them on a social media (Facebook) site called "Mifflin County Alerts". Within five minutes of the post being shared a person had shared it with her friends and within ten minutes at least 3-4 people had seen and responded to the post.

(An aside) Sharing is a wonderful thing most of the time. Lately, our world has chosen to share gossip, slander, anger, bitterness, hate, and a hundred other detrimental things. What would happen to us if we chose to share good things and set aside the bad things? (Back to the lost dog.)

    In Facebook land 'sharing' provides a wave of exposure for your cause that cannot be rivaled (Those who use Twitter just laughed out loud). Sharing gets your message to a growing number of people in a short time. Follow with me. I have close to 400 friends on Facebook. I don't solicit for more.  The site "Mifflin County Alerts" has:

Yes, that is correct, there are over 15,500 members on this site. 

I'm no math major, but let's throw out a number here....okay more than one number.

I have 400 friends. If the average person on Mifflin County Alerts has 300 friends (Some have more. Some have less.) then multiplying 15,557 by 300 produces a number in the 7 digit region. Actually (4,667,100).

    I'm sure there aren't that many people in a three or four county area of central PA and so that number doesn't reflect the true reach of a shared post on Facebook. But, if my post of the dog went out to       15, 557 people what would happen? Long story short, within 1 1/2 hours of the post, the owner walked in our door, claimed her dog, and the story had a happy ending.

    Jesus had something to say about lost things in Luke 15. Lost things need found. Humanity being lost in sin needs found. In each of the three vignettes that Jesus shared, there was a great celebration when lost things were found. Yesterday there was a small celebration.

    As life rolls along and things change, it is important, dare I say imperative, that we as a faith community continue to evaluate and adapt our approach toward the very people who need to know the light and love of Christ. If social media exists (Or a new fad called Pokemon Go) then finding ways to connect with a couple of generations removed from the church (the body of Christ) seems to be a good thing.

    I'm sure if I used the above mentioned social media site to promote Jesus I would be soundly blocked. I can however use my site and the site of Lewistown First United Methodist Church to spread the light and love of God to a world in desperate need to be found.

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