Social media is ubiquitous, used by 3.8 billion people worldwide. It’s where people go to share their thoughts, share their food, show off how perfect their life is, and let other people know how wrong their opinions are. But can social media be used for something more? Can it be used for God?
In the most recent episode of Indigitous PULSE, we discussed that issue with two social media experts, Maddie Garcia with Power to Change and Mariana Pando-Romero with OneHope. In the episode, they lay out some important tips for making an impact for God on your social media.
For most people, social media is about sharing. It’s about showing what you’re doing, what you think about a topic, but that can come off as self-centered and it doesn’t invite someone to engage with you. “People want to talk about themselves,” Mariana says. “They want someone to hear them. They want safe spaces where they can share their heart, they can share what they think without being judged.”
It can be tempting, since you have an important message, to use social media to preach, but you’ll have better success if you form a trusted relationship first. One way of forming and building that relationship is to get people talking about themselves. Mariana uses the example of Jesus talking to the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4). “He didn’t just come and start attacking her,” Mariana says. “He heard her and that made her open her heart.”
It’s tempting to try to do too much, to share everything you want to share at once, but with social media, you need to think about engagement. How do you get someone interested in what you have to say? “It could just be to create some curiosity or some intrigue or get people thinking about something or open up about something in his life that he hadn’t opened up about before,” Maddie says. “That could lead to further conversation later on.”
Focus on relationships, not numbers
Most of us aren’t influencers. We don’t get thousands of likes on each tweet or Instagram post. But while people of the world measure engagement in those statistics, as Christians on social media, we need to think about relationships.
“Jesus only had twelve followers,” Mariana says, “and He made the most impact.” Rather than focusing on the number of people who interact with your posts, put effort into building relationships with the people who do. “If it’s only one person that’s responding to us, I feel like we should care about that person, make sure that person is safe and being loved, and we are discipling that person.”
“Some of the friends and family members in our lives, you could be the only Christian in their life or the only Christian that is actually loving towards them,” Maddie says. “You can be a powerful witness and example no matter how many people you are interacting with in person online. God can use you in those different relationships to impact those people in big ways.”
Consider the thresholds of engagement
Everyone goes through different phases in their life as they go from lack of belief to a relationship with Jesus. Christian groups have different names for those phases, but the idea is the same: coming to faith is a progressive journey. Maddie’s team with Power to Change defines the thresholds thusly:
- Know and trust a Christian
- Become curious
- Open to change
- Seeking Jesus
- Enter the Kingdom
As you interact with friends, family, or even strangers on social media, try to figure out which of those stages the person is in. Your interaction with them should be based on their stage in their journey with God. For those who are in the early stages, building trust with them while modeling a good example of Christian faith is huge. “People will notice that. If you’re just working with non-Christian friends who are in those early stages of just knowing and trusting a Christian, that’s also a very important part of evangelism,” Maddie says.