Smarter use of social media for Christians
Too many Christians fall into the trap of getting involved in social media without realizing the pitfalls and problems they can also bring. Before they know it they are embroiled in either endless circular debates with atheists or have drifted into sharing pointless news unrelated to anything Godly in origin. Worse still they can be drawn into hostile exchanges or tempted away. I propose a simpler, yet smarter, way of using such sites. The sites I am principally referring to are Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google – but – the same rules ultimately apply to any such site. I hope this advice helps you a little bit.
Primarily I believe that social media is the next level of engagement for Christians to share the faith with others. So we all should collectively work hard in getting the gospel out to the masses. Social media makes this whole process quick, easy and instant. Don’t let the “airwaves” be dominated by Justin Bieber or One Direction (Psalm 56:10). If you are reading through the Bible, doing a bible study, or just reading a purely “random” verse then share it. I am reading Joshua right now and shared a verse recently that instantly connected with another Christian who was on exactly the same book and verse. It was wonderful to make that connection for that reason.
I also believe we should be sharing inspiration far more often. It’s great and critically important to share a verse of the Bible but it is equally as important to say how your faith is shaping your life in the here and now. If a prayer was answered, if you heard God, if your day was inspired, if you felt better for spending time with God. Demonstrate to others just what faith does for you in the present. You never know how much your words of inspiration can really bless someone’s day when they are having trouble. Often I have read something in my twitter timeline that has really lifted me when I needed it the most (Job 4:4). Imagine if you can help someone in this way? Equally so don’t be afraid to share your troubles and hardships (Phil 4:12) for there is unity in fellowship in doing so.
Equally so share where you came from. Why you became a Christian and what faith did to transform and change your life. Imagine if you can share your rise and recovery from atheism, suicidal tendencies, alcoholism, drug addiction, etc? There is huge power in sharing testimony, even every few days. I don’t believe we as Christians do this enough. Show people where you came from and the reason for where you are now. Do not be ashamed of your testimony (2 Tim 1:8). Talk about it often and with the passion you feel from within.
Share also important and relevant news. Your church is running an alpha course? Share it, Don’t keep it a secret. Don’t assume people won’t care or won’t be interested. You church held a month long fast? Held a coffee morning to raise money for cancer research. Share and celebrate it. News shows Christianity is active, alive and busy. If we don’t share news like this it looks like we are doing nothing.
Make it a point to visibly support companies and causes. On social media sites I follow, review and actively support many such companies (Christian Aid, World Vision, Care International etc) that need our help to keep their visibility high. If they remain visible more often through sharing, liking, commenting or re-tweeting then they increase their likelihood of sourcing more funding, hiring the right guy for a job they are advertising, etc. They need our support to thrive and to help the most needy amongst us (Romans 12:13).
Finally, networking. Social media is increasingly more about connecting a person to a person. What started off as simple information sharing has become more and more about the interactions between one person and others (their followers). This means what you say and who you say it to has become quite important. The problem (or challenge) of being a Christian is that a lot of people will not want to listen to what you say. Who you network with will become quite the task. Do not make their faith a criteria but their heart. If you only ever connect to Christian what reward is there in that? You could miss a genuine chance to witness or help someone in need. Be careful not to be so dismissive.
You should also make it a point to scrutinize EVERY follower or friend request rather than just blindly accept everything. Are they genuine in heart? Should you really be following them back or accepting their friend request? I am blessed now to have 4,411 followers on twitter and I can say that I have scrutinized each and every friend request starting back in January 2010. Spammers, scammers, hateful and abusive people get blocked immediately or as soon as I know their true intentions. Remember, just because you are a Christian, doesn’t mean you have to be a doormat. You have the right to walk away (Luke 9:5, Proverbs 1:25) or to rebuke with authority (Proverbs 9:8, Psalm 119:21). Exercise both with caution and as appropriate.