Anyone not living under a rock would have a hard time seeing and saying that social media hasn’t invaded our lives. Companies brand themselves while depicting the images of the various social media avenues. We as a society practically speak in hashtags now. As fast and furious as social media came into our lives, have we really stopped to take a good, hard look at its impacts, benefits, and potential dangers.
Pastor, author, and speaker Craig Groeschel does just that in his book “#struggles.” In the introduction, Groeschel writes, “We’re becoming addicted to immediate gratification even as we attempt to control how others perceive us by what we post, pin, and tweet.” But he doesn’t spend the entire booking talking about the evils of social media or throwing the baby out with the bathwater, he points out truths and takes a more detailed look at just what social media has done to change the way that we see, ourselves, others, and the world around us.
Each chapter starts with quotes from both famous people and random people. The quotes are a helpful picture of a truth as well as a revealing look at just what the negative impacts of social media have been on those whose quotes appear. The chapter are spent focusing on how to recover, restore, reveal, resurrect, revive, remember, reclaim, and replenish some of the key character qualities that can easily be diminished if we allow social media to replace face-to-face relationships in our lives. The areas that he focuses on that have been degraded or diminished are contentment, intimacy, authenticity, compassion, integrity, encouragement, worship, and rest.
Groeschel shares his heart and his own struggles with social media. There’s no denying that he and his church have been the benefactors of social media. His church, LIfeChurch.tv, is located in the suburbs of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. In fact, his church created the popular “YouVersion Bible” app for Apple and Android devices. But in his own brand of self-deprecating humor and with all of the passion and conviction that he brings in his messages, Groeschel walks through “#struggles” and points continually to what the responsibility of those who follow Christ should be in the midst of a social media driven world.
The appendix at the end of the book contains two helpful sections. One section is on the 10 commandments of using social media to grow your faith and share God’s love. The other section is on safeguards that can be found to help with devices, computers, television, and other things to keep you and the ones you love from going astray. Both of these are helpful resources to remind those reading who are followers of Christ just what our mission and focus should be, regardless of whether we are doing something digitally or in person.
Throughout the book, Groeschel offers challenges in a compelling way rather than through guilt. He shows the importance of face to face relationships and reminds the reader that honest to goodness caring, “means taking some action. It’s getting ourselves involved so we can make a difference in a life. Clicking doesn’t change anything. Caring is not Liking a post; it’s loving a person.” He urges the reader to move beyond digital interaction to restore relationships that happen across a table or even phone line.
I have appreciated Craig Groeschel and his winsome edginess since I discovered who he was more than ten years ago. This book is no exception. I appreciate that he engages a topic that is necessary and yet upon which there are varying opinions. He’s not shy about speaking his mind but he also does not necessarily condone an ostrich approach towards culture, sticking your head in the ground and pretending everything’s just fine. “#struggles” is a helpful read for those of us who are trying to make sense of our place or the place of our children as followers of Christ with social media.
(This review is based upon a copy of this book which was provided free of charge from Booklook Bloggers. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.)