by: Scott Bakken
Since the age of 16, I have been involved in the local church. Before I discovered the church I was a bit of a loner, keeping to myself and not interacting with others. Deep inside I longed for community and to be known. One Friday morning, I was getting ready for school and I felt this overwhelming sense that I needed to go to church. I wasn’t a practicing Christian at the time, but I longed for community and true friendship. With expectation, I called up a friend and asked if I could go with them to church that Sunday to which they surprisingly said "yes." Without hesitation, I knew I'd found a place to belong. Over time, I learned what it meant to be a person of faith. It wasn’t long before I began singing in the church and being actively involved on the music team. I remember thinking, Why isn't everyone coming to church to be a part of this community? As years went on, I realized that many churches, while they are inherently a place of love, have a major disconnect from the world around it—we were separated. After high school, I spent several years traveling on missions trips where I had the opportunity to meet new people. It opened my eyes to the reality that world out there was incredibly large and much bigger than I had known. While I found many people who believed what I did, I also found others who didn’t. I had many friends who didn’t go to church and the amazing thing is I felt just as connected to them. I loved them just as much as I loved my friends who went to church. To be honest, some of these people were even more accepting than my church friends! So how could we break this divide?
In 2005, Jessica, my wife, and I packed up everything and moved to Australia to study and be a part of Hillsong Church. Our years there were incredible as we sat week to week under inspiring teaching. We met incredible people and were involved in what I consider to be one of the most influential platforms. It was a season of growth and connection. We loved our time there, but in 2010, we decided to move back to Calgary, Canada, to be close to our family and to establish roots. When we arrived back in Canada, the sense of disconnection and disengagement we felt was audible. Coming from such incredible community to one that felt non-existent was isolating. It seemed everybody in this city was doing something, but nobody was doing it together.
I came to realize the power to connect and build relationships that existed in the forum of social media. However, in recent years, I have also seen the possibility for social media to be used as a weapon. The power to delete, block and unfollow has the ability to isolate and excommunicate. This is an experience I've had first hand. I've learned there are many others who've had a similar experience. The hardest part of that experience was discovering that some of these actions came from my friends in the church! It made me question if this was how it is meant to be. Should the body of Christ, especially the church, socially excommunicate each other? I was committed to changing this.
I was committed to asking how we, as Christians, can ensure that our communities are not exclusive. And I was committed to breaking down the walls of isolation and creating something that was designed to be inclusive. What if there was a community committed to including others, without prejudice, even if our viewpoints or beliefs are not mirrored? Imagine the conversations, relationships and possibilities that could come from such a community!
I began connecting with other Christians on Instagram. I was drawn to the beauty in their photos, the power in their words and the sense of acceptance within the Instagram community. From my place of disconnection and frustration, I began to build new friendships with people from all over the world through my iPhone. It was incredible to realize the amount of people who just wanted to connect, whether you loved Jesus or not.
This sparked an idea.
What if we all assembled for one cause in order to break down the divides that exist? Ever seen A Bug’s Life? The little ants never knew how powerful they were until they realized their strength as a whole.
If we could gather people from everywhere, we could take the message of love and make it loud ... real loud! This movement could not only connect us all socially but also create moments in time that would allow us to gather physically and meet each other face-to-face. That would allow us to build true, authentic, lasting relationships! This would be a community committed to helping each other develop in ability and mobilize to serve the community for the sole purpose of sharing the message of love, which is anchored in the truth of the gospel!
I spent months on late night phone calls, emails, FaceTime and Skype chats sharing the vision. One by one, people said yes! Yes to a movement of love! We began to assemble a global team that would help share the message of Socality.
The movement officially launched January 19, 2014, and simultaneously we launched our "I am @Socality" campaign. In this campaign, we asked people to post a portrait on Instagram with the caption "I am @Socality." Within hours, thousands of people around the world posted across social media. The faces of those who want to stand for love were made known to each other. The concept of "I am @Socality" was designed to declare that you yourself are the movement. Socality is not one person or an elite group of people, it’s YOU! Socality is not built on the one, but the many, and the many finding the One.
We officially launched that day, but the passion and concept behind Socality has been in the works for years. It's more than just a platform or concept, but rather it's a movement. A movement designed with purpose, initiated by people and aimed at bringing the heartbeat of God to humanity. People often ask, “What is Socality?” and the answer is easy. You are Socality. You are the movement!
In the short time that has passed since the launch, we now have over 65 countries represented within the community. We have received letters and emails from many individuals asking if they can be involved in this community even if they don’t believe in Jesus or go to church. And the answer is YES!!!! If the answer wasn’t, then all we are creating is another social club.
At the core, we believe in Jesus and the gospel He teaches through the Bible. We want to get back to the basics and focus on the central theme of Jesus, which is about loving God and loving His people. When Jesus met the fisherman Simon Peter, He didn’t ask him what he believed, but rather invited him to follow.
Socality believes that you matter simply because you exist and that you should belong first. We are passionate about the fact that you are never alone. God never designed us to be deleted from community. When asked if Socality is Christian, we unashamedly and boldly respond, "yes!" We are not watering down the message of Christ, but rather the opposite. We are committed to bringing the heartbeat of God to humanity.