Subscribe via RSS Feed

Social Media and the Pentecostal Church

How has social media redefined the way we belong to communities?

Despite the initial skepticism, YouTube, with Google’s support, has gone on to dominate the world of online videos. In 2014, it was found that 63% of web panelists used YouTube.[18] YouTube itself reported over one billion[19] users and an average of over 300 hours[20] of uploaded film every minute. YouTube’s global base and open user format has received a significant amount of credit for changing the format of democracy and social discussion. During the 2007 presidential debates, viewers submitted questions to candidates via YouTube.[21] In 2008, YouTube received the Peabody award for “promoting a free exchange of ideas … becom(ing) an international video library.”[22]

Image: Saulo Mohana

Even though YouTube and Facebook are the largest social media sites, they are not the only platforms. Other sites such as LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter also have a significant number of users. All of these platforms can count approximately 20% of online American adults as users.[23] Pew Research reports that this exponential growth in social media use is not limited to the younger generations, but that approximately 31% of American seniors participate in a social media platform.[24]

Social media gives the Pentecostal experience skin.

The widespread use of social media has provided Christian churches with an opportunity to widen their reach and extend their influence to their adherents in new ways. Lakewood church, led by Joel Osteen, is a prime example of a church using social media to widen its influence. The Osteen’s ministry is comprehensive in its utilization of multiple social media platforms. The ministry maintains accounts on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram. The ministry also utilizes three separate personas in addressing the general public. The first persona is that of Joel Osteen himself. Joel Osteen’s Facebook account possesses 12.9 million followers.[25] Providing Joel Osteen with a wide audience of people who have access to his encouraging remarks such as, “All the circumstances may say it’s going to take years for your dream to come to pass, but get ready for an unexpected delivery.”[26]

Joel Osteen’s Facebook is undoubtedly the central hub for connecting with adherents, however, his Facebook home page is designed to push viewers to other major social media hubs. The Facebook about page contains links for Joel Osteen’s personal website and Twitter account, encouraging followers to immerse themselves in the world of Osteen. This strategy appears to have a significant amount of success as Joel Osteen’s Twitter account possesses 4.31 million followers,[27] and the YouTube account reports 7.9 million views and 85 thousand[28] subscribers.

The second persona the ministry utilizes is Joel Osteen’s wife Victoria Osteen. Although Victoria’s persona does attract less followers than Joel, her numbers are still comparable. Her Facebook account boasts 3.5 million adherents,[29] and her Twitter accounts shows 614 thousand[30] followers. Like Joel Osteen’s site, Victoria’s site prominently displays links to her website and Twitter account. However, unlike Joel’s persona, Victoria does not maintain YouTube or Instagram accounts. This absence is somewhat covered by the fact that Joel’s accounts include a significant amount of material created by Victoria.

Pin It
Page 2 of 812345...Last »

Tags: , , , ,

Category: Fall 2017, In Depth, Pneuma Review

About the Author: Kyle Smith has M.A. in Christian History & Theology from George Fox University and is a currently working on a PhD in the Religious department of Rice University. His master’s thesis focused on the relationship between Pentecostal epistemology and institutional stability. He has presented on social media, ecclesiology, epistemology, and religious economics.

  • Connect with PneumaReview.com

    Subscribe via Twitter 1259 Followers   Subscribe via Facebook Fans
  • Recent Comments

  • Featured Authors

    Amos Yong is Professor of Theology & Mission and director of the Center for Missiological Research at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena. His graduate education includes degree...

    Jelle Creemers: Theological Dialogue with Classical Pentecostals

    Craig S. Keener, Ph.D. (Duke University), is F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. He is author of many books<...

    Listening for God’s Voice and Heart in Scripture: A conversation with Craig S. Keener

    William L. De Arteaga, Ph.D., is known internationally as a Christian historian and expert on revivals and the rebirth and renewal of the Christian healing movement. His major w...

    Evangelist of Pentecostalism: The Rufus Moseley Story

    Wolfgang Vondey, Ph.D. (Marquette University) and M.Div. (Church of God Theological Seminary), is Reader in Contemporary Christianity and Pentecostal Studies at the Universit...

    Steven Felix-Jager: Pentecostal Aesthetics