This article first appeared on Crosswalk.com, July 17, 2019.
The Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20 tells us to go into all the world and make disciples. Today, reaching “all the world” is easier than ever in the digital age where a #blessed Instagram post made from your living room can reach the other side of the globe in seconds.
But it also brings new challenges to sharing our faith. With so much of our time spent online or on social media, how do we effectively share the Gospel with all of the people we interact with virtually?
We’ve all seen those people who post a Bible verse with every selfie (all three hundred of them), or who scream in all caps about how those heathens need Jesus. Especially in the midst of trolls, angry comment threads, and virulent verbal attacks, sometimes it seems easier to settle for an occasional #blessed and move on. But Jesus never said it was going to be easy. Here are 7 ways to effectively share your faith on social media.
1. Be nice.
This should go without saying, but it’s a great place to start. People aren’t inclined to listen to those who rant or attack.
Sometimes, what you don’t say is more important than what you do say. If you’re constantly complaining about your spouse, sharing articles with comments like “aren’t these atheists dumb?,” or posting nasty comments on people’s threads, people aren’t going to want to follow you on social media, let alone listen to you about a faith that is supposed to improve you as a person.
Before even trying to share the Gospel, treat people with respect. Usually, people will respect those who respect them.
2. Think before you post.
Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you post anything:
- Is it helpful?
- Is it hurtful to anyone?
- What does this say about me as a Christian?
- How does this reflect on my faith?
Most things you post are probably innocuous: pictures of your kids, a pretty sunset, a silly meme about laundry. But look deeper. What are they saying about you?
This doesn’t mean you should be fake or only post things that make you look good. Instead, embrace who you truly are while pointing others to your truest identity in Christ. Maybe you’re posting about how your laundry is piling up, but is it in the sense of laughing in the camaraderie of the fact that none of us are perfect, or is it self-deprecating? Maybe you’re posting about your beautiful children, but are you doing it to brag, or are you giving thanks to God for this undeserved gift?
If what you want to post doesn’t pass the test, keep it to yourself. For some more questions to ask yourself, check out this article about “10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Posting on Social Media.”
3. Show instead of tell.
As humans, we’re hardwired for stories. Just remember back to when you were a kid. What was more effective at keeping you away from the stove, your mom telling you it was hot, or your big sister telling you how Johnny touched the stove once and burned his hand clean off?
Likewise, people are more likely to respond to the Gospel playing out in your life than a direct call to repentance. (The difference here being, of course, that you’re telling the truth, unlike big sister’s story about Johnny.)
Instead of posting “God is good,” post about what He’s done in your life. Instead of preaching about how Christians take care of people, post a photo with one of your friends from the soup kitchen, nursing home, or benefit walk. (And if you don’t have any opportunities for pictures like this, that may be a sign of a bigger problem, according to James 2:14-17.)
4. Share strategically.
We’re not all wordsmiths. Sometimes, the best way to share your faith is to share links to your favorite Christian bloggers, writers, or websites that put things just the way you wish you could. Share these with a comment about how much they mean to you personally—not why other people clearly need to read it.
We’re also not all artists. Sharing a song, poem, or picture that someone else created can appeal to the hearts of others in a way cold, hard facts sometimes can’t.
And if there’s a cause you care about, or an organization you think is doing great work, share that, too!
5. Show care for others.
Jesus reached out to those who were hurting and offered comfort and healing. If Jesus was on social media, I doubt He would spend all his time posting pictures of his adventures. He would encourage others. He would make them feel heard. And he would offer tangible help for those who need it.
When a Facebook friend posts about an illness or a Twitter pal is injured, instead of just commenting, “Prayers! *heart emoji*,” ask what you can do to help. Can you bring a meal? Drive them to a doctor’s appointment? Bring the love of Jesus beyond the screen.
6. Dialogue; don’t argue.
If someone online criticizes your faith or comments negatively on your posts, offer to answer their questions respectfully. Acknowledge that people have different viewpoints. If the person continues to be combative, walk away politely. Name-calling and screaming matches never led anyone to Christ.
Alternately, if someone has genuine questions, answer respectfully, and if necessary, offer to discuss the matter further in a direct message chat. Offer resources for them to do their own research. Never insult them or their position. Instead, offer reasons why you believe what you do.
7. Pray about it.
No matter what you do, always consult God first (Ephesians 6:18). You may not know who your post will reach or what those people are going through, but God does. Trust him to give you guidance on when and what to share.
Beyond consulting him about individual posts, pray over all of your online activity. Ask God to give you opportunities to share His love. And then ask him to equip you for when He does.
At the end of the day, there is no formula for effectively sharing the Gospel. There is no golden post that will always change hearts. But by moving forward with grace and wisdom, any interaction, no matter how mundane, can point to the existence of a loving God.
Alyssa Roat studied writing, theology, and the Bible at Taylor University. She is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E., the publicity manager at inspirational press Mountain Brook Ink, and a freelance editor with Sherpa Editing Services. Her passions for Biblical study and creativity collide in her writing. Her debut novel Wraithwood releases Nov. 7, 2020. She has had 150+ bylines in publications ranging from The Christian Communicator to Keys for Kids. Find out more about her here and on social media @alyssawrote.
Other Articles from Alyssa about living during COVID-19:
What Does “Thy Will Be Done” Mean During a Global Pandemic?
Are You Willing to Be Unseen in Quarantine to Realize God Sees You?