I met my pastor on Facebook.

I hate to admit that because I’m one of those people who only “friends” people who are actually my friends. I don’t care if we know 42 of the same people. If I don’t know you, we aren’t friends. We aren’t even associates. Not until we meet. Then (assuming we like each other enough) we can be “friends” on Facebook.

After all, do you need know how I’m feeling, what I just read or see pictures of my family if we don’t even know each other?! There has to be a line.

So I broke my own rule when I accepted a friend request from someone I didn’t know—even though we had over 50 Facebook friends in common. I knew that he pastored the church where one of my students interned. I told myself that such a connection meant I was only bending the rule.

He posted provocative questions about possible sermon topics for the week, biblical interpretation, religion and politics, sexuality and the church. I kept my theologian hat on by making comments on historical context, hermeneutics and doctrinal precedent. But one day he posted a question, I gave an academic answer, and then I reached out with a personal message: “But what do you think?”

Before I knew it, we were meeting, laughing, and realizing that we had been circling the same people and places for 15 years.  How have we not met until now?

Being new to the city and in need of a church home, I planned my first trip to the church—my first of many.

I had to admit it: I met my pastor—and found my church—on FB.

Something about this embarrasses me. It all seems much more nouveau and postmodern than I like to think of myself. After all, I’m a little old-school with my worship: I like spirituals, hymns and liturgies. I like to kneel at the altar rail and see the usher’s strut down the aisle at the end of the offering period. I like to see old folk in the front row and babies sleeping on adult laps. I want kids in new knee pants, bow ties, bonnets and Mary Jane shoes stumbling through Easter speeches.

Then I had to ask myself: how else does one find a new church in a new city? Looking in the phone book … er, I mean Google … for the closest church in one’s denomination? Looking for the place within walking distance of one’s home? Asking friends for recommendations? Do you know a church near me that…?

Oh wait, this is what happened on Facebook! In ways I didn’t even perceive, I found a church in my home tradition, got positive references from friends, and visited Bible study—all on FB! I still need to show up in some concrete place—see people in the flesh, give and receive hugs, taste the flat wafer. But social media helped me find the right place to do that.

(originally published at The New Media Project here)