THIS book is a simple guide to thinking biblically about one’s online interactions. I imagine that it would be helpful for church leaders who are realising that they need to engage with the internet and all the attendant issues that might affect people’s discipleship, but who might not know where to start. If you already use social media and the internet a great deal, you may find it a little simplistic.
The book covers a wide range of themes, such as prayer, taking a sabbath, gossip, pornography, and bullying, and then looks at what they might mean online. The aim is to help the reader think “What would Jesus post?”, updating the ’90s slogan for the next generation.
Robertson makes an interesting point about hypocrisy that, as online lives blend with offline lives, it is becoming harder to live a double life — and that is a good thing.
More could have been said about the benefits of the internet and social media for pastoral care and discipleship: for example, the way in which the housebound and those with mental-health problems and disabilities have access to church communities online in new ways; or the way in which apps, such as the YouVersion Bible app or PrayerMate, can support spiritual development. Neither of these apps is mentioned in the chapter on prayer.
Robertson helpfully explains what the book is and is not. Unfortunately, he does this in the afterword rather than the introduction; so it is a good idea to read the afterword first. The book is structured in such a way that the reader can dip in and out of it easily.
A few relevant chapters could be used as material for a small-group Bible study, or even a short course. I would recommend it to a congregation who, perhaps, are feeling a generational divide around the use of technology and would like a way of approaching discipleship in this area together.
The Revd Bryony Taylor is the author of Sharing Faith Using Social Media (Grove, 2016) and a priest in the diocese of Derby.
What Would Jesus Post?
Church Times Bookshop £8.10