Are you an influencer?
If you are a user of social media, you may have come across people who are influencers. According to google (because hey, thats what we do - we google it), a social media influencer is someone who has
the power to affect the purchasing decisions of others because of his or her authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with his or her audience.
a following in a distinct niche, with whom he or she actively engages. The size of the following depends on the size of his/her topic of the niche.
It is important to note that these individuals are not merely marketing tools, but rather social relationship assets with which brands can collaborate to achieve their marketing objectives.
What I have found funny about these so called influencers is their audacity at trying to get something for nothing simply because they have 'x' amount of followers. They deem it acceptable to enter a restuarant or demand an item and payment is a 'shout out' on their social media as a way of payment.
Crazy. I even read of one influencer who, after being banned on social media for one reason or another, was hysterical because she had no other way of income and didn't want to get any other job because she had no qualifications.
So what has this got to do with you and me as Christ followers? Well, the question remains - are YOU an influencer? No matter who you are, where you are, how old you are - if you have breath in your lungs and a heartbeat - YOU are an influencer for the Kingdom.
Church life has unfortunately been hindered by numbers - "how many attend your church?" or "How many youth go to your youth group?" We can get caught up in 'followers' for the wrong reasons. We can so easily miss the point. Social media influencers want as many followers as possible and as much limelight as they can get - and when that fails or reduces, they lose their minds (well, one did...).
Now, the church needs followers. Well, to be more precise, Jesus wants followers. He wants people that care about Him and not about my church is bigger than your church. What He wants is for you to be all out in your pursuit of Him and in doing so become an influencer.
When I said that numbers in church can be detrimental (because we so easily compare), it is the numbers outside of church that we need to be interested in. Those that haven't heard the good news of Jesus. Those that need to hear there is a hope in these times of COVID and that hope has a name. Those that need to know that they are loved and valued beyond measure by our Father in heaven.
And a vehicle for that is you. God chose us, marked us out, to be influencers. Not people after likes, not people who need a following, not people who think they are owed something - but people who are so sold out for the cause of Jesus that wherever they go, wherever they set foot, whoever comes into contact with them, they influence.
Work, home, friends, school, college, university, the coffee shop (when we are allowed out again, obviously). Everywhere we are we should be an influence.
I'm currently reading through the book of Acts, and even though the bible is full of influencers (with Jesus being the ultimate EVER), there is one snapshot that stood out for me for this, and thats in Acts 19: 1-7.
While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”
They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”
So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”
“John’s baptism,” they replied.
Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There were about twelve men in all.
Paul would have had a reputation already, and the people in Ephesus would know all about him. Paul was an influencer. But in this story we read that there were people who were disciples of John who hadn't encountered baptism in the Spirit. Paul now has the opportunity to influence these disciples.
He doesn't want anything in return. He doesn't want a huge crowd - there were just twelve men (hmmm, seen that number somewhere before), and he grasped that moment to tell them something that would change their lives!
Even though we read in scripture of many people hearing the good news and converting, it is in the small group settings, the one to ones, the accountability, the chance meeting (is it chance?) that we see the real change take place.
I use this story of Paul because it shows that he used an opportunity to influence some guys because he carried change. He carried hope. He carried the Spirit. If you are a living, breathing Christian who claims Jesus as Lord and Saviour, then let me remind you what you carry. Heck, I need to remind myself sometimes.
We are influencers, but we don't need followers - we need to be a follower - to the One that matters. You carry the power, authority, knowledge and position to be an influence in relationships on a daily basis. Your distinct niche is the kingdom of God. Your topic is eternal life!
Have a read through what an influencer is described as again at the top of this page. Then see how you can translate that for God.
We can say that Jesus influenced thousands, but it was in the close proximity of His 12 disciples, His closer three, that He influenced more deeply. And look what Peter started.
Paul was a man also changed by an encounter with one person - and look where he went and what he did! In Acts 20, we read that Paul would never see the Ephesian leaders again, that the pull of the Holy Spirit was taking him onwards to Jerusalem and told him that there was trouble ahead (stop singing).
Yet Paul understood that he was an influencer wherever he went, and that getting comfortable in one place, with one crowd, with people he knew wasn't going to yield results. Thats not to say we all go on a huge journey like Paul, but we need to be aware that comfort can be harmful to us. But discipleship comes in the unexpected. Influence can come when we aren't looking for it. What we need to do is be focused on following Him, hearing that nudge of the Spirit, and doing what we are called to do.
My hope is that as followers of Jesus, people will notice us not because of the crowd that could follow us but because of the One we follow. That we influence in any way we can for good to those around us - those we know and those we don't.
Stay safe, and stay blessed
P.S. If you are on social media and have followers and you are promoting/teaching/preaching/showing Jesus then thats okay. I'm not knocking it because as a church we must embrace it - hence why we have the amazing Abbie seeing how HT can be a very good presence on ''internet.
We also have Christy who has influenced many of our young people to bible journal on social media - people are being bold and brave about who they follow (Jesus) and are not ashamed, as well as many more people within the church who want to get Jesus out there - and social media is great for that.
So, let us embrace it in the right way.