Our lives in person and our digital lives have increasingly become intertwined. For many, the first place they go to explore niche hobbies, find like-minded people and even meet new friends or partners is online.
If virtual communities are thriving, how do we share the good news of Jesus with people in this space? Here are five things to consider.
Are you consistent?
What kind of things do you post publicly, and what do they say about your character? If you posted something about going to church or your faith, would it appear out of place for you to do so? If it would seem weird for others to see you talking about your faith, perhaps this is a chance to re-evaluate what you say online and whether it is consistent with your Christian beliefs.
Are you genuine?
Your character will speak louder than the words you say, so be sure that who you are online is full of grace and seasoned with salt. Treat everyone online with compassion and care, regardless of how they may be treating you or other people.
If you are going to take the time to contribute to online discussions and comment threads, do so in a way that is gentle and kind. This is something that is regularly absent online. Also, such discussions with strangers – or even with people you know –- are not often an effective method of persuasion. Discerning whether those online are ready to consider different opinions and genuinely want to engage, or whether they are simply looking to argue and restate their own opinion, will help us use our time and words online wisely.
Are you seeking connections?
One status update is not necessarily going to convince someone to repent of their sins. However, if you’re praying for people, checking in with them and connecting with them regularly, they might be more interested in that Christian event you’ve posted publicly. Or they might see a Bible verse, or a Christian article or post, and think to ask you about it.
Such connections are not only the foundations of being a good friend but they open doors for conversations about faith and who Jesus is.
How can you share your life in a way that shares your faith?
We all share our lives online to different degrees with friends and strangers, especially if we regularly use different social media platforms. But there’s more to being a Christian online than routinely posting Christian quotes – although there’s nothing necessarily wrong with that.
The best examples of faith sharing online I see are from friends who are open about what podcasts and music they’re listening to and why they’re enjoying them. Or friends who share about Christian books they’ve read, or different Bible resources they’re enjoying. Some regularly offer thoughtful comments about news articles and current affairs. Others ask good questions about things they’re pondering and invite others to comment or get in touch with them.
How can you support others who are sharing about Jesus online?
We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. There are so many great churches and organisations already producing and posting great Christian content. Online engagement is hard to come by for organisations, so although this isn’t the be-all and end-all of online evangelism, supporting the work of Christian content creators is important, too. When you like, share and comment on your own church’s social media posts it means more people on Facebook or Instagram are likely to see that content.