One of the biggest dangers about social media is the idea of platform building. Platform building is the idea of becoming known for the content you produce for the purpose of self-promotion. Recent days have seen increasing conversation about building a platform; especially if you are a serious blogger, an aspiring author, author, or conference speaker. While some of the principles of platform building may be helpful, I think undergirding much of this conversation regarding platform building isn’t helpful; it is actually spiritually dangerous and detrimental to the health of the Christian. Before you finish reading this post, I hope to persuade you by the grace of God of the dangers of platform building. Perhaps you’ve thought about some of these issues as well. If that is the case I look forward to your thoughts in the comments. Either way this is a conversation I trust Christians will engage on because of the Gospel.
One of the dangers as I see it is that many bloggers write more for attention and less to edify their readers. So I’m clear on this point, what I mean is bloggers who write only on controversial topics are typically going to attract a large audience. In high school I played in a lot of varsity golf tournaments and even some tournaments with the top players in the state of Washington. I devoted myself to the game, practicing every chance I could get. Now playing with the top players in high school is vastly different than playing with say the top college players or even professionals. While I played with college players and even some professional golfers, what I learned from those experiences is that in order to excel at anything you must practice and work as hard as you can. My point here is hard work and talent will only take you so far. I fear that many bloggers are only concerned with working hard and relying on their talent and not on relying on God’s strength through the Holy Spirit and being about advancing the Gospel and the strengthening the Church.
What does it take to build a platform? Honestly I’m convinced not much. It is easy to start a blog and write a few posts on the most controversial of issues and attract some attention. People want to hear about the latest issues. There is a way to do this though that dishonors God and elevates our opinion above the Word of God. This type of blogger is known for blasting Pastors, churches, denominations, and networks all in an effort to expose their latest and gravest error. This type of blogger saddens me for several reasons.
First, writing has a long and storied tradition in the church. From the second century onward we see Christians writing and working through a variety of doctrinal and theological issues. Social media has cut the red tape between the scholars and the lay person so the lay person has more of a voice through social media and blogging. With this comes a great deal of danger. The danger of social media is that we elevate our opinion and think it is the only one that matters. This is not only dangerous it is vanity and pride, an attitude God hates. When Christian bloggers write only to blast off on one another we not only dishonor the long and storied history of great writers in the Church, we dishonor the God who gave His people the ability to write.
There is a great danger now that the playing field has been leveled between those who get published and the ability social media offers of immediately posting a blog post. That danger is a lack of accountability both within the church and outside the Church. Pastors can encourage those who’ve devoted themselves to the craft of writing high quality blog posts by encouraging them to read good books and point them to good books. Pastors can encourage writers to use their gifts to the glory of God. Pastors should hold the writers in their congregation accountable. Lay Christians can encourage and hold one another accountable for what they say and how they say it on their blogs and book reviews. This is why I am thankful I have a few close friends I trust who read over my writing whether it is a blog post, a professional book review, or a book proposal, trusted people who tell me whether I’ve erred or whether I’ve been helpful. If you are going to get serious about blogging, you need to find a good editor to help you with your writing.
One of the most neglected aspects about the renewed interest in writing through blogs and writing book reviews is the danger of pride. At the heart of the discussion about platform is a tendency to think that, “My opinion means something more than it probably means”. Now please hear me out. I am not saying that my opinion is better than yours or that your opinion doesn’t matter at all. I think the Church needs to have a place where lay people can speak about areas of opportunity for growth and many important issues that face the Church. The dangers of platform building are rather than building up God’s kingdom, we instead engage in coddling our sin rather than killing it as John Owen said by the grace of God.
Platform building may be the latest and greatest thing but it is not the last enemy. Jesus has defeated death and the grave and is a victorious, triumphant and exalted King and Lord. As we write on blogs and interact on social media, I pray that we will be as serious about killing the sin that remains in us by the grace of God as we are in calling out those who are in error.
Blogging and social media provide the Church a great opportunity to advance the gospel. How Christians use social media and blogging will undoubtedly either further or hinder the Kingdom of God. When you think about how you are going to build up your platform, I pray earnestly that at the heart of that is not a desire to build a kingdom for yourself but to expand the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus. Jesus’ Kingdom is the only one that matters. Christians do not need people following us, but they do need to call men and women everywhere to repent and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved. Furthermore, Christians do need to powerfully speak up for God on a whole litany of issues but they must do so motivated by the glory of God. Lastly, Christians must ground their thinking in the Word of God and the Gospel of God so that their ministries might point people to the glory of God in the finished and sufficient work of Jesus Christ. Whether you are thinking about starting blogging or you are already blogging, I encourage you to test and examine your motives for why you blog. At the end of the day the Christian should be most concerned not with pleasing men but in pleasing God by testifying from the counsel of His Word which contains His Gospel. May we stand on that precious truth and proclaim it with every keystroke to the glory of God.