Written by Angel Kivia
Your alarm goes off—what’s the first thing you do? Go on your phone to turn it off, duh. What’s the second thing you do? More likely than not, it’s the decision of which app to open first. Social media has become a part of the morning routines of those with smartphones and wifi access all around the world. Not just the developed parts of the world—all around the world.
It is highly unlikely (nearly impossible) that you have met someone who has yet to be affected by social media. Consumer brands, politics and even different organizations within our community, have all taken great recognition of what I believe is the best tool we have to share the story of Jesus with our community and beyond.
We are living in the greatest communication shift the world has experienced since the creation of the printing press in the early 1400s, but some parts of the church have been slow to change methods of evangelizing and sharing the gospel. After all, smartphones are not mentioned in the Bible. The Apostles did not command the ministry leaders of the church to create Instagram accounts to share the good news.
However, we are called to share the good news through whatever platform reaches our neighbour where they’re at in their walk with God. This used to look (and sometimes still looks) like salvation DVDs and blasting print media on every bulletin board in town. The digital age challenges each local church on how to tell the story of Jesus. This is a gift! God reveals His blessings in many ways, one of which includes the free resources of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, among others.
Like any other gift that’s been abused or perverted, social media often has a negative connotation on how it can encourage comparison and, most heartbreaking, the need to be fake on the internet. But there is nothing fake about the gospel. There is nothing fake about what Jesus is doing in our community to heal the hearts of the broken.
Despite the unhealthy messages often communicated through our social media feeds, we the Church are called to be the light of the world (Matthew 5:14). We are called to evangelize, celebrate and testify as to what God is doing in our communities.
It’s important that we maximize this gift. Why? Because everybody is doing so! The church should not fall behind taking advantage of the opportunity to engage with our community the 167 hours they are not in church every week. In overseeing social media at my local church, I’ve learned a couple of things that have pushed forward our vision of “Loving All People to Jesus.”
Cass Langton, global creative pastor of Hillsong Church, often describes the creative team as the visual and communication evangelists of the church. Within your local church, they are individuals God has gifted and called to communicate the Good News through a different platform than the traditional one. It might look like design, photography, videography, editing, writing, etc.
Just like everybody else, we want to be pursued; creatives often want to be pursued. Therefore, you might find that these individuals might hide in the back row struggling to find their place in ministering to the community. The Holy Spirit will highlight these individuals to you and call out another part in the Body of Christ. They say that Millennials and Gen Zs are two of the most collaborative generations to have ever existed. We are called to do this together and I believe there is a grace on young people to evangelize to their community through social media.
As we experience the complex communication shift of the digital age, we are challenged to keep up and retain the attention of our followers! If your Facebook, Instagram, and/or Twitter is used to update your followers on the next youth event, eventually they will stop caring and continue to swipe! Social is a creative playing field and the whole world is playing. The social platforms themselves regularly innovate new methods for us to engage with our followers. Take advantage of Instagram Stories and Twitter polls (to name a few).
According to the 2016 Social Media Report by The Nielsen Company, Gen X (ages 37-58) spend the most time on social media: almost seven hours per week, with every other generation falling below seven hours. Gen Z (ages 8-23) are known for their short attention spans. The most valuable commodity on social media is the attention span of the follower. It’s going to require us to be innovative in our methods of communication.
Nobody knows the story of what God is doing in your community better than the people who have actually experienced the move of God in your specific context. Social media does not discriminate! People want to hear about what God is doing in both kids and senior adults ministry, in your local high schools and workplaces. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Before any post, or share, or like, remember the goal is to tell the story of what God is doing in our community.
Social media is more than we can imagine it to be. Take pride in a gift that is continuously creative in its approach to move the hearts of those who take part in it. Seek those who are gifted and called to be visual and communication evangelists of the church. Collaborate with those of all demographics within your church community on ways to be innovative in your digital communication approach. Testify about what God is doing in your community.
We are called to be the light of the world, even on Instagram.