How to Be a Christian Influencer Worthy of the Name

We do not deserve to wield influence in the church while being simps and sycophants to the secular world.

There’s good reason for the church to be wary of social media influencers—particularly those who speak to spiritual matters. We aren’t wrong to be disconcerted at the idea of Christians being led by online personalities who might be more charismatic than theologically sound or more creative than credible, especially when the influencers are disconnected from church discipleship and discipline themselves. Algorithms, monetization, and viral moments create endless temptations and adverse incentives that can seduce even well-meaning creators into serving themselves and the worst elements of pop culture.

Yet I’m also persuaded it’s possible for Christians to speak faithfully in that tension, and that we do ourselves no favors by running away from the reality of social media’s influence.

I was reminded of this while attending this month’s Black Christian Influencers (BCI) Conference, where founder Jackie Horbrook succeeded in curating an atmosphere that was both aesthetically dope and substantively gospel-centered. Christian creators in fields as varied as theology, activism, and fashion came together to discuss how to use their platforms to glorify God—and how to navigate the risks that come with staying on the cutting edge of culture while centering Christ.

Those risks are not as new as they may seem. In John 7, Jesus’ brothers essentially tell him that he’s not maximizing his potential as a pre-digital influencer. He needed to be more outward-facing, they argued, and show off his miraculous works more frequently because “no one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret” (v. 4).

That advice exposed their failure to understand …

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