Social Media is often pitted as the arch nemesis of real relationships. Remember the good ol’ days when people called each other instead of texting, dropped in for a visit instead of liking each other’s Instagram post, or gauged their relationship circle based on how many showed up for a last-minute BBQ rather than how many “friends” they had on Facebook? Me neither. But I think I saw it on a Hallmark commercial one time.

It’s true. Our world has been become larger and smaller simultaneously. We have more access to people than ever before in the history of mankind. Geography can’t keep us apart. Language barriers can’t debilitate us. Social differences can’t separate us. When it comes to social media and the internet…connecting and relationships are a free for all. At the same time, the amount of people, information, and chatter is paralyzing. There is just so much of it!

The rise of social media doesn’t have to steal the last shreds of authenticity from our lives. Not if we don’t let it. Not if we are intentional about our relationships and connections. Social Media can become for us what every other advance in technology or communication can be…a tool.

Here are 5 things that can help you use social media to build authentic friendships:

1.  Be real

If we aren’t careful social media becomes a game where we run up the score with well-angled shots, nice filters, and catchy language. Games are fun to play but they eventually come to an end. Social Media isn’t a fake world. There is nothing fake about friendships and connections regardless of what form they take. But it is also only as real as we are.

2.  Be friend worthy

Want friends? Be friendly.

Your mom ever told you that before? Sometimes we treat social media like a journal to vent all our deepest emotions instead of a venue to meet new friends and build  current ones. What kind of friends do you like to have in your life? I bet they are positive, encouraging, funny, interesting, etc. Want to have those kind of friends? Well, you get the idea.

3. Engage in Conversation

One time Danny and I became trapped in an endless (one-sided) conversation about A BOTTLE OF WATER. No joke. A conversation takes more than one person to make it happen. One person says something, another person responds. A friend described it like a ping-pong ball…it is meant to go back and forth across the table. Ask good questions. Be interested in other people’s lives. Give people a little glimpse of you and your world.

4. Encourage people

Ever notice how we tend to have a bad habit of withholding the very thing we crave from others. We want encouragement and affirmation and yet are slow to give it away. Consider this question…what would make social media an awesome place to connect with others? And then purpose to make it that way for the people around you. My guess is that what you sow, you will soon reap.

5. Treat it as the starting point

Many times we treat social media as the end game instead of the starting point. If something ends up on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram then it is truly a worthy friendship, event, or life moment. In reality, our purposeful online connections should support and lead to moments that may or may not be recorded for the public eye.

At Sun City Church we are in the middle of a transformation. Small Groups launched this week and the process of relationship building has been accelerated. A crowd is shedding it’s thick skin to reveal an emerging community. Call it friendship. Call it family. Call it whatever you like. It is people reaching out of their own circle to invest themselves in the lives of others, into who they are becoming, and join each other on the journey of reflecting Christ in our world. It is a single light being multiplied again and again as lives merge together to stand with God, for God, and, ultimately, to reveal God to watching eyes.

Let’s use every tool we have to be part of what God is doing and make authentic friendships that will help shape our destiny. Follow Sun City Church on social media and be intentional about connecting with potential new friends.

Facebook

Instagram

Twitter

Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.  John 13:34-35