The rise of social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter has had a huge impact on how people interact with each other. Our lives are now communicated to others 24 hours a day, news travels faster than it ever did before, almost instantaneously. We communicate with more friends, more often, and more easily. Whilst social media websites can bring problems they have also brought many opportunities, not least for how Christians can seek to spread the message of the gospel and be a witness for Christ. Here are 10 tips on how you can use websites such as Facebook effectively as a Christian.
1. Ensure that your online testimony is consistent
Are the pictures and videos that you post giving a clear message, or have things become muddied by the videos and links that you post? The effect of posting a gospel text is greatly diminished if moments before you had uploaded pictures of yourself a rock concert! Very often more people will see what you post on Facebook than you imagine, and will very easily see the inconsistencies. Don't be sending out a mixed and confusing message.
2. Generate posts appropriate to current events
Whenever possible try to post something relevant to current events. Where people's minds are taken up with the latest news story, a scripture text, link or comment related to whatever is current is more likely to attract their attention than something chosen at random.
3. Link and share and comment on other people's posts
Do you want your Facebook friends to share what you haveposted? Then you have to return the favour. Engage with your friends and don't have your profile as a one way street where you never seem to respond to anything which other people post, yet desire their attention in everything you post.
4. Don't overdo it!
Sometimes we can be too eager in posting links on Facebook. If you are posting 15 or 20 times every day on your Facebook page, even where those posts are edifying, people will very soon switch off. Constantly cluttering up someones news feed will only cause them to ignore much of what we post, and likely miss that which is most important.
5. Don't underdo it!
Equally we must make sure we give people a reason to follow us. A single bible verse hidden amongst a months worth of posts about unimportant items will unlikely have much effect. A regular witness will add weight to what we say and make people more likely to read the article or view the video that we have posted.
6. Link your social media profiles
Do you have both Facebook and Twitter, perhaps a blog also? In that case link them together so that you can reach a wider audience with what you post.
7. Select your posts carefully
Where people see you have quoted a Christian preacher or author they may well assume that you are recommending all that that person teaches. This may well not be the case! Take care to choose who you quote, what versions of scripture may be used and any possible inferences that could be taken the source of you link. Good quotes from dubious sources are best avoided.
8. Use suitable filtering
Who do you want to see the post? Sometimes the answer may not be everyone, in which case it my be appropriate to restrict some posts to particular lists of people. Ensure however that you do not use this a means of avoiding letting others know of your faith. Posts which clearly proclaim the gospel should be open for everyone to view.
9. Post at the most opportune time
You will naturally want your post to be viewed by as many people as possible. The early hours of the morning is then unlikely to the be the best time to upload it. It will depend on your particular audience as to when you will post for maximum effect, however in general the majority of people are most often online in the early evening. This will usually be the best time to reach the widest audience.
10. Don't restrict your witness to social media
The Internet is not a replacement for traditional means of witnessing. Whilst Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other sites may present new opportunities for witnessing, they are not an alternative to personal evangelism, but an aid. Speak to your friends face to face, reach out to your neighbours with the gospel and engage in the outreach of your church.