According to a study in America by Barna, nearly a third of adult Christians share their faith in some way on social media. It is reported that “through posts, comments and profiles, many Christians believe that technology and digital interactions have made evangelism easier”. The study did, however, find that younger people were more cautious in using social media in this way.
We are certainly called to tell the gospel to many people, using all possible means. Social media extends our reach; most of us have a greater set of digital contacts than we would regularly be able to speak to. And the wider audience when things are then shared could be vast.
Perhaps it also makes evangelism easier because it is not so challenging as speaking face to face with someone. Our “listeners” can choose whether to engage or not; it also allows us some space when questions come back to take as much time as we need to reflect and answer carefully.
Social media for evangelism and apologetics does have some downsides, however. Misunderstandings can easily happen, which may then rapidly develop into an argument or the breaking of the online “relationship”. There is no easy way to put our comments in context and to convey tone and intensity – emojis are not enough!
Also, social media conversations are very fragmented. They can develop over minutes or months and they have no end point. They can become good and lively but then suddenly everyone moves on to do something else and the window of opportunity is lost as our device windows fill up with the latest new posts by our friends. This makes the development of a balanced explanation of the gospel very difficult.
There is also the danger that we use social media posting and chatting as a substitute for the sacrifice of being bold in our witness to family and friends and to develop deeper friendships. The fact is that the best dialogue I ever have on social media is with people I know and meet regularly!
So, by all means let’s use social media to gossip the gospel. But realise its limitations and make sure we do not neglect opportunities with our friends and family; boldly speaking about Jesus with them is likely to be more costly, but more fruitful.
What do you think?