Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Jesus & the Internet: How to Share the Gospel on Social Media

We are charged by God almighty to share his gospel with the world.  God is good.  His gospel is pure, right, and timeless.  Therefore we ought to share it with all peoples, in all nations, everywhere.  Many of us consider cities, towns, and nations that need the gospel.  Many of us consider the post-Christian nature of the United States and Europe.  Many also consider the 10-40 window and the persecuted church in those areas.  But how many of us consider the power of the internet in sharing the gospel?  

The internet is a strange realm.  It's rife with chaos, bluster, and profanity.  It's a hot bed for pornography, hate speech, human trafficking, and other horrors.  Yet it's also a field of ideas, a field of debate and discussion.  

The internet is also a beautiful realm.  It's a place where people gather to discuss ideas.  It's a place where charities grow and flourish.  It's a place where people stand against evils in the world, and expose corruption.  The internet is a place where Christians create websites, apps, and online Bibles to share the truth.  It's a realm that gives a voice to millions of bloggers.  It's a hot bed of discussion, much of it negative yes, but much of it also positive and productive.

Many are dismissive of the internet.  They don't seem to think that the internet is real, or important.  What they fail to realize is that behind every post, every page, every site, and every profile is a real person.  That real person is influenced by the ideas shared on the internet.  Therefore, the internet is simply a realm of people.  And we are called to share the gospel with all peoples.  

Media hasn't always been as open as the internet.  Television was the great silencer of debate and alternative ideas.  Thank God almighty himself that we no longer have only the pale orthodoxy of television to guide debate and discussion in our culture.  Imagining a world without the internet is imagining a dark, establishment driven march toward progressivism and moral relativism.  Thank God again for the internet.  It's just what we needed to counter such a narrowing of the debate.

The internet is a vast network of ideas and discussion.  These ideas come in many forms.  You have social media, you have blogs, search engines, all of these lanes to navigate.  Within these endless pages live the chance to stand for Jesus Christ, and to share his gospel with the world.  Imagine how many people you can reach!  These are not just usernames, or meaningless entities; these are people who can be deeply influenced.  

We engage in the realm of ideas.  The internet is a giant mission field where we can share the gospel and transform culture.  There are dozens of outlets for the sharing of ideas: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Blogger, Reddit, Linked In, Tumblr, Stumble Upon, and Wordpress.  There are many, many others as well.  

The most important thing about the internet in regard to culture and the gospel is this: Young people are the vast majority who interact on the web.  

Young people are the future.  Therefore, sharing the gospel via the web is vital to our efforts as Christian activists.  It's ground we must conquer, because it is the open forum.  We're locked out of the television already, and the media.  We're almost entirely locked out of Hollywood, the college system, psychology, medicine, academia, the sciences, and public schools.  We're not locked out of the web.  And the web is the key to reaching young people.  This is how many young people prefer to interact.

So how can we share Jesus on social media effectively?  How can we begin to influence the web?  Let's look at some common sense ways to share the message on social media.  The two largest social media platforms are Facebook and Twitter.  We'll look at Facebook and Twitter, and how to share Jesus on these prominent platforms.  The lessons we discuss regarding these two giants can be applied to any of the myriad additional social networks that exist on the web.

1. Facebook is the largest social media site on the web.  There are three primary ways to engage on Facebook: Through an account, a page, or a group.  Experiment with these options.  But for our purposes we'll discuss how to engage via your personal account.

One of the best ways to share on Facebook is by resharing pictures.  This is a very common method of sharing the Christian worldview on social media.  It's best done on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.  There are tons of Christian pages that regularly put out Christian pictures.  They tend to have quotes from Christian leaders, Bible verses, apologetics information, and other content.  Click reshare, and get the truth out there.  Very simple.  I tend to share 3-5 pictures a day on my Facebook account.  

Some good pages to "like" on Facebook include:
The International House of Prayer
Cross Examined
The Institute for Creation Research
Banner of Truth
Family Research Council
Charisma News
Charles Spurgeon Daily
A.W. Tozer Man of God
Not a Fan
Our Daily Bread
K-Love Radio
Frank Turek
New Living Translation
Focus on the Family
My Bible
One Nation under God
Baptist Humor
The Salvation Army USA

Also consider liking our pages:
A Lifestyle of Peace
Pastor in Training Justin Steckbauer
Evangelical Intelligentsia
The Appeal to Heaven Movement

Another good way to share the truth via Facebook is by posting text.  The two primary ways I do this is by copy-pasting scriptures and by copy-pasting quotations.

I have two mainstays for accessing scriptures, they are Biblegateway.com and Open Bible.  If your on a mobile device, check out YouVersion.  Simple find a scripture portion that is speaking to your heart, copy-paste it onto your Facebook and post it.

If your looking for inspiring quotes to share, check out of the Powerful Quotes section of this website.  Another good source for Christian quotes is a ministry called Always Be Ready.  Still another source for good quotes is ChristianQuotes.info

The final way I'll mention to share the truth via Facebook is by reposting blogs and videos.  You may feel free to copy-paste any blog on this website to your social media accounts.  There are many other good Christian blogs out there too, do some Google searches.  If you enjoy writing consider creating your own Christian blog!  The three best free blogging platforms are Blogger, Wordpress, and Tumblr.

Another great way to share is by posting videos from You TubeHere are some recommended channels from You Tube for solid content to reshare:
Acts 17 Apologetics
Apologia Acts 17:17
C.S. Lewis Institute
Christian Channel
Christianity Reason and Science
Desiring God
Dr. Craig Videos
First Cause Argument
Frank Turek
Liberty University
Moody Bible Institute
Ratio Christi
Ravi Zacharias International Ministries
Reasonable Faith.org
Socrates in the City
Sermon Index
Tactical faith
Test of Faith
The Good Christian Music Blog
The Veritas Forum
Theology, Philosophy and Science
Thriving Churches International
Truth Endures

2. The second and final social media platform I'll discuss is Twitter.  Twitter is the second largest platform on the internet.  Twitter is very different from Facebook. You'll be challenged to post concisely in 140 characters or less.  You can share a few short sentences, or links, video, and pictures.  

Twitter is famous for it's various hashtags.  Whenever you "tweet" something it's wise to mark it with a hashtag.  Some of the most popular Christian hashtags are as follows: #Christians #JesusChrist #GodsnotDead #Apologetics #CCOT #TCOT #Faith #Bible #Godisgood #JesusSaves #religious #grace #bibleverse and many others.  

Similarly to Facebook, you can upload a picture and share it, link to a video and share it, and post a link to a blog and share it.  The best way to gain followers on Twitter is to follow others, retweet content, and interact with your followers.  Posting good content is a sure fire way to draw followers as well.  You can follow up to 5,000 users at the beginning, and more later once you reach 5,000 followers.

I interact a great deal on Twitter.  I personally have thirty different Twitter accounts.  Combined together, when I tweet something out I can reach over 50,000 people in a single click.  I did this through years of work, and I use a free program called TweetDeck.com to blast out my posts to all the accounts simultaneously. I generally try to post 3-5 tweets a day. 

If you'd like to follow me on Twitter my primary account is: @JustinSteckbaue 

Consider building your twitter account to reach out to as many people as possible.  Twitter is a powerful tool to connect people to Jesus.  It's also a great way of saturating culture with the Christian message.

There are many other social media platforms, but the biggest are Facebook and Twitter.  That can always change though.  New platforms are routinely invented and those with the best innovations soon dominate the web.  A few years ago Myspace was the biggest social media platform and only a few years later Facebook claimed total domination.  Don't be afraid to experiment and try out different platforms.  There are dozens and dozens to explore.  Find your niche in the conversation.  

Here's a tip: Even on the web, it's all about relationships.  Develop relationships with your followers on Twitter and your friends on Facebook.  Talk to them via messenger.  Engage them in debate and discussion.  That is the best way to share the gospel on social media, one person at a time.  Sharing great content plants a lot of seeds, but the best transformations happen when relationships are developed.  

People will challenge you when you begin standing for your faith on social media.  That's fine.  Be prepared to give an answer when someone does.  But remember to do so politely.  It's more important to win the person than to win the argument.  And remember, others are watching on social media.  Make sure your witness isn't damaged by a poor choice of words.  

A secondary benefit to becoming a Christian social media juggernaut is that it enriches your own walk with Christ.  All of this content begins to saturate your daily life.  Eventually you find yourself getting deeper and deeper into the Christian worldview.  You begin to see from the perspective of the truth, instead of desperately reaching for it from a foreign worldview.  The more I engage and find new ways to plant the message on the web, the more I find myself enriched in theology, apologetics, philosophy, scriptural references, and Christian history.  It's awesome.

After a few years of developing your accounts and pages, you can find yourself with an enormous influence.  I began writing this blog three years ago, only receiving about 15-25 hits a day.  Today that number is up between 200-600 hits a day.  I use to have a few social media accounts, now I have dozens with far reaching influence.

The web of course isn't for everyone.  When I write this I'm mainly speaking to people who already love the web and social media.  Use that love to the glory of God.  God calls us to mission fields like this, where we have natural talents.  If your naturally a computer nerd like me, then this could be right up your alley. 

The internet was once an extremely secular place, where the only mention of religion was to mock and ridicule it (through unearned moral superiority.)  You know how it is.  But more and more, Christians are beginning to gain influence on the internet.  In a world where Christians are locked out of academia, television media, public schools, and the sciences, the internet becomes a vital hope for the propagation of the Christian worldview.  People are being led astray everyday, especially young people.  We've got to engage them with the truth of life: The gospel of Jesus Christ, the God-man who came into the world to save us.  Share that message, not over weeks or months, but day in and day out over years and decades.  We're in it for the long haul.  We can't expect instant results.  We need to think long term.  Let's do so, bravely and wisely.  Take care and God be with you.    

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