Walk through the book section at your local Walmart and chances are you'll find popular titles written by individuals within the Pentecostal and charismatic movement, such as Joyce Meyer and Joel Osteen. Flip on your television and you might encounter one of the most recognized ministers with a Pentecostal background, T. D. Jakes, dispensing advice alongside Dr. Phil.
The biggest question about social media and the church is not how the church can harness the power of social media for good ends while safeguarding against bad ones (useful as such discussions may be). It's how social media is changing what it means to be church.
I'm a part-time student at a denominational seminary, where I'm working (very slowly) on an academic-track masters. It's generally been a good experience, but the school's not a perfect fit. Again and again, professors and coursework assume a ministry context.
When Robert Deming lost both his mother and sister in his youth, he was so angry at God that he decided he was an atheist. He eventually came back to the faith not by argument or reason but by the love of his wife. “I would not be a Christian if not for two things,” he says. “The love of someone patient and the beauty of adoration offered lovingly.” His advice to Christians with family or friends who have left the fold: “Be patient with those you love . . . [and] do what you do with beauty, care, and reverence” (thesubdeansstall.org, October 12).