Burk Parsons was the third Pre-Conference speaker. Mr. Parsons serves as associate minister at Saint Andrew’s in Sanford, Fla., and he is editor of Tabletalk. He holds the Master of Divinity degree from Reformed Theological Seminary, where he is also completing his Doctor of Ministry degree. He speaks regularly at various conferences and schools in the United States and abroad and has contributed to various books and journals. He is author of the forthcoming booklet Why Do We Have Creeds? (P&R, 2010), and he is editor of the books Assured by God and John Calvin: A Heart for Devotion, Doctrine & Doxology__. You can follow Burk Parsons on Twitter: @burk_parsons. Mr. Parsons' message is entitled Taking Captive New Media for the Church.
Discernment has all but disappeared from the landscape today. We need it desperately today, because we must recognize the difference between half-truths and full-truths. We need to exhort some to be wise. We ought not to "throw out" social media outlets -- holding them in suspicion, because of the worldly influences which so often dominate that realm.
Parsons set forth seven filters to guide our use of new media.
1. We need to be disciplined, deliberate, and discerning in the use of our time.
We're to take every thought captive for the sake of Christ. Even our communication via cards and letters ought to be seasoned with grace. I hope many of you write letters to your children, because it allows us to convey certain things that are otherwise difficult to convey.
We need to look at the venues and be wise in how we employ them, if we choose to do so. We need to "look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil" (Eph. 5:15-16). A lot of us are wasting lots of time on social media rather than interacting with our families. We need to not be neglectful of the full array of our responsibilities.
2. We should strive to use new media to set our minds on heavenly things.
We need to have our eyes constantly drawn to Christ. We need to be people of the Word and prayer. We need to be truly and deeply heavenly minded that we might do the most earthly good.
3. We should strive to use new media to edify the body of Christ.
We should ask ourselves if we are edifying the body of Christ with what we do with new media. Building up the body sometimes means sharing a critique or a correction. But what we write should always be for the building up of the Body.
4. We should strive to use new media to maintain unity and purity in the church.
We should not view new media as the primary venue for the airing of our grievances. It is not a good venue to be accusing others (particularly those we don't know) of sin. Instead, we ought to "walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (Eph. 4:2-3).
5. We should strive to use new media as part of our subduing the earth.
We read in Gen. 1:28 that we ought to "be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth." We ought to fill the ends of the earth with the knowledge of God.
Some, however, need to break away from new media and create firm filters, because we can use new media with sinful hearts and we can employ them for the devil's purposes.
6. We should strive to use new media for the glory of God.
Does our use glorify God and does it encourage others to glorify God?
7. We should strive to use new media for the kingdom of God and not our own personal kingdoms.
What's our true motivation in using this new media? Could we honestly say it is for the glory of God? Everything we do should be for His kingdom, for His glory. Everything we say, text, or tweet should be to make His name great, and not for the advancement of our own honor.