The Seven Deadly Sins of Christian Platform Building
There’s a weird world where marketing, social media, and Christianity have come together online in a dangerous dance.
I follow many online Christian platforms and find quite a few of them edifying and thought-provoking. But after walking in this space for a couple years and getting to know quite a few of them, I’ve recognized some patterns and pitfalls—among others and myself.
I’ve been ruminating on the classic seven deadly sins in regards to online Christian platform building, and I wanted to share some of those thoughts:
The Latin word Luxuria literally means extravagance and opulence. It’s not sexual, or at least it’s not solely sexual.
The sin of lust is about unchecked desire. For the Christian looking to build an online platform, it can be a hunger for attention, influence, adoration, or any number of self-serving purposes.
The difficult thing about lust is how disingenuous we can be about it. It’s easy for us to believe we’re doing it for Jesus, when we’re doing it for us.
Let’s be honest. There’s no way that we can keep our motives completely pure. But we need to be diligently, vigilantly, and prayerfully wrestling with our personal motives in building our online fiefdoms.
To commit the sin of gluttony is to consume more than one needs. The Latin gluttire means to gulp down, and it generally applies to overeating.
One application of over-consumption that applies to platform building is the need to always be on top of the latest online developments. The need to stay connected and present to your online platform at all times and to make sure you know about the latest news and posts often comes at the expense of those around you and even to the ever-present voice of God.
Most of our online relevance is illusory at best. Build your platform, but set some boundaries for its intrusion into your life.
Avarice, or Latin’s avaritia, is the sin of coveting—the constant desire to have more and more…
How can we get more followers? More readers? More influence? I’ve felt the constant dissatisfaction with the platform I have built, and I’ve felt the drive for bigger, bigger, bigger . . . Believe me, I’ve seen some strange and questionable things being done in the name of platform building.
There are techniques involved in growing your platform. Anyone can do it—even with questionable content. We all run the risk of thinking that success is a sign of God’s pleasure in our endeavors. That just may not be true.
We serve a creative God who is always at work. With hard work and inspiration, his people can contribute in his labors.
Sloth is the sin of trying to own and amass without effort, to get aquire with as little work as possible.
Blogging requires so much regular content; it can be daunting. There are many temptations for the lazy to bypass the toil that’s often the cost of inspiration. Whether it’s copying content (including your own) under guise of “talking about what’s trending” or capitalizing on debates surrounding bigger bloggers and platforms, there are ways to get further with little effort.
But there’s no way around it, the recipe for inspiration is mostly sweat.
Next to politics, nothing stirs the unruly passions of people like religious discussion. Rest assured, the larger your reach, the higher the likelihood that you’ll have critics and detractors.
People will leave you terrible comments. They will threaten you. They will gossip about you. They will make fun of you. Your response to these people will give your platform legitimacy—or it will take it away.
It’s not that difficult to write and maintain a Christian blog. Lot’s of people have enough Christian knowledge to at least appear intelligent about religious things. But how you respond to criticism and critique will reveal the truth about your heart and maturity.
Imagine if Paul had poured his energy into silencing his critics instead of building the kingdom. Consider what a terrible position we’d be in if Jesus didn’t allow his false accusers to lead him to the cross.
Sometimes we need to listen to our critics—we’ll learn more about ourselves from them than we will from the flatterers.
Thomas Aquinas said of invidia, “Envy according to the aspect of its object is contrary to charity, whence the soul derives its spiritual life . . . Charity rejoices in our neighbor’s good, while envy grieves over it.”
There’s a temptation to think of online attention with a poverty mentality. The interest others receive is taken directly from you. This wrongheaded thinking makes it impossible to really root for and rejoice in the success of others.
Arrogance and hubris are gateway sins. You can look at almost any fault and make a direct correlation to pride and vanity.
When we are so convinced of our own abilities and methods that we eschew the input of others (and especially of God) we are treading on dangerous ground. Once we start believing our own press and our more vocal, sycophantic followers, we’re not much different than our adversary.
The ice is gets particularly thin when we start conflating our own opinions with the gospel and telling other what God thinks and what they should be doing. We need lots of people around us who love us and will tell us the truth—people we’ll listen to.
I have seen it a lot that as one’s online platform grows, their involvement in a truth-telling, life-giving, honest community of flesh and blood believers dwindles.
And I promise, once you and adoring strangers are your only counsel, you’re in serious trouble.
Maybe you’re a blogger and you’ve felt the sting of some of these temptations. Drop me a line; I’d love to talk. I have, too. There’s nothing wrong with building an online presence, but we need to be wary of the snares.
NOTE: If you check out the comments, Alex pointed out a recent post with some of the same themes. I hadn’t seen Rishona Campbell‘s post The 7 Deadly Social Media Sins when I wrote this. Finishing the second season of House of Cards was the inspiration for mine . . . How am I like Frank Underwood? But Rishona’s is a great post and I’m pleased to have come to similar conclusions when considering the same source material.