Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants his social media network to function like a church, down to pastors and charitable giving.
"People who go to church are more likely to volunteer and give to charity—not just because they're religious, but because they're part of a community," Zuckerberg says. "A church doesn't just come together. It has a pastor who cares for the well-being of their congregation, makes sure they have food and shelter. A little league team has a coach who motivates the kids and helps them hit better. Leaders set the culture, inspire us, give us a safety net, and look out for us."
Zuckerberg says he wants Facebook to meet this need in the lives of many people.
"Communities give us that sense that we are part of something bigger than ourselves, that we are not alone, that we have something better ahead to work for," he says. "We all get meaning from our communities. Whether they're churches, sports teams, or neighborhood groups, they give us the strength to expand our horizons and care about broader issues. Studies have proven the more connected we are, the happier we feel and the healthier we are."
During a recent tour across America, Zuckerberg met with a handful of pastors in Texas.
"I had lunch with community leaders in Waxahachie who shared their pride in their home and their feelings on a divided country. I met young moms in West who moved back to their town because they want their kids to be raised with the same values they grew up with. And I met with ministers in Waco who are helping their congregations find deeper meaning in a changing world," Zuckerberg said earlier this year.
The meeting spurred some writers to question the social media platform's role in growing faith.
"We need to be asking where the church is in this movement to shift our perception of where community happens and how spirituality is experienced, both within and beyond the tech sector," Bonnie Gray writes for Relevant. "Facebook is a company whose stock rises and falls on wall street. If Facebook is leading this conversation of faith and creating community, where is the church's leadership found? You and I hold the most authentic and real gift to offer to the world by sharing our real, authentic stories ourselves. And we might just be missing an opportunity to do it."
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