Social Community – Is it Real Community? Is it Healthy?

By Matt Dawson


In our current age of technological advancement and immediate access to every person on earth – I’m asked often about the value of “social community,” especially when it comes to young adults and aging parents.  Is it real community? Is it healthy to believe these virtual connections are real connections?

This blog is an opinion so you’re welcome to disagree with me and form your own conclusion.

I will say that I’m a fan of the technological advancements we have made to make the world smaller, and to help us connect easier to each other.  That being said, with every great thing comes the opportunity to abuse, misuse, and produce something unhealthy.  There are many blogs written about the warnings of social media, I’m going to share with you what is GOOD and USEFUL concerning Social Community.

To start, the best thing you can do is separate what you might assume is just a false sense of community through social media into two categories: Social Network and Online Community.

Social Networks
We all have friends, relatives, coworkers, neighbors, and acquaintances. These all represent the touch points in our lives in which we share some of the deepest relationships we have to the most casual. Regardless, this spans over the course of our lives from that kid with the glasses we were in 2nd grade with, to that girl that I met last weekend at the conference that has a similar love of 80’s memorabilia.

Social Networks allow us to remain connected and get connected to every one of these relationships. When understating the purpose and usefulness of these networks, you can enjoy connecting with an old friend from school or forming a private group with family members to share photos of the kids & cousins.  This allows us to ask questions to our local network “hey…who’s got a plumber that they trust?” or “does anyone know why that road was shut down this morning?”

Social Networks are the EXTENSION of a relationship (all kinds relationships) that allow us to continue to CONNECT (network) with one another.

Online Communities
Online Communities can overlap some with relationships that I have in my social network, but most often are groups of people that I’ve connected with ONLINE. Most online communities are interest based and offer us the opportunity to engage with people we have never met and might not ever meet in person…but to whom we can have a relationship with through the online community.

In my current stage of life, I’m a member of several online communities that vary in interest from ministry partners and pastors, online coaching, and lovers of all things kayak.  These groups are filled with people from any gender, ethnicity, and from all over the world. It’s fascinating to take a conversation to a direct message with someone in Costa Rica about the kayaking they do down there…WOW!

Some use these communities as a “safe” option for relationships because they are less likely to be rejected and can find more people with similar unique interests to theirs.  Make no mistake, they value these relationships and consider these online communities very important to their life.

Online Communities are the ADDITIONAL relationships we have with people around the world that we may have never met, but who bring value and meaning to interests in our lives through these virtual communities.

Are they REAL Community?  Are they Healthy?
While I do not believe that we will EVER be able to live without close, face to face, connection, and interaction with each other in relationships – I do believe you can also find real community and healthy relationships online.  With the advancement of video chats (Marco Polo, Facebook Live, FaceTime) and faster connections, we have more and more opportunity to connect at a deeper level with people that we are physically removed from.

Our children need to be taught (and we often need to be reminded) that relationships are INTENTIONAL. The guidelines we chose to define our relationships will determine the AUTHENTICTY and the VALUE those relationships bring to our lives. If they are Christ-centered, grace-filled, challenging yet refreshing, with shared values and reciprocal friendships, then you can experience real, healthy community.

At the end of the day, how you approach social media and online groups will largely depend the results you get from them.

Join us at Journey Church as we discuss the details of a Healthy Church and a Healthy Community.

Series Preview | Healthy Church, Healthy Community

By Chris Denning


Have you ever gone to a sporting event or maybe one of your kids competitions and found yourself high-fiving a total stranger? Or talking for a few hours while you’re there just because you had a common bond?

It’s strange how quickly we can become comfortable with someone like that. How quickly we can feel like we’re a part of something bigger than ourselves.

This can happen at church too. You walk in, drop the kids off, grab some coffee, and the music sweeps you up with the voices all joining together. Hearing teaching from the Word and seeing what the church is doing in the community can really make you feel like you’re a part of something bigger than yourself.

And you are. But what if there was more? What if there was something BEYOND this casual community?

In our new series, Healthy Church, Healthy Community, we’re going to take the time to learn how we can trade casual community for something we call Intentional Community. Intentional Community is the kind of thing that doesn’t just change your life, but can transform you personally.

Rather than having shallow relationships and connecting with only a few people accidentally, we have the opportunity to create deep, meaningful friendships that challenge us to become a better version of ourselves, to be more like Jesus.

Encouragement when we are at the end of our rope.
Accountability when we need support to take the next step.
A friend we can call when we need help at 2am.

We believe that Intentional Community will not only transform your life, but the life of our church. If we have healthy community at Journey, then Journey will become a healthier church. And if Journey is a healthy church, then our community will be healthy and thrive. They work together, for our good.

I want to invite you to commit to coming the next two weekends. Just two Sundays. Ask yourself what it would be like to be involved in this thing called Intentional Community. How would your life be different?

Come here what we have to say and the stories of lives being changed by Intentional Community, and then take a step. Not just any step. But the next, right step, into Intentional Community.