How Has Social Media Impacted Evangelism?
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How many times have you heard the comment, “There are two sides to every coin”? That would be a good way to define how social media has impacted evangelism.
Social media is one of the fastest ways to get the gospel of grace to people and on a large scale. Within moments you can declare to the whole world, “Christ died for your sins and rose from the dead.”
I often tell people that evangelism in the New Testament is more assumed than it is asserted. As you read Scripture, you get the distinct impression that as believers it is assumed that we would want to tell people the best news they could ever hear. That is one reason the emphasis in the New Testament is on message not method. It is as though God is saying, “Look! Just get the word out. Tell anybody and everybody through any means you can that I have paid the price of their sin through my death and resurrection. Through personal trust in Me to save them, they can live forever in my presence.”
What faster way to do that than through social media? The same time you are sharing the message with the neighbor next door, you can be shouting the message to a person halfway around the world.
A second advantage is that for the believer, evangelizing through social media can be less intimidating. I do not necessarily see the frown on your face if you dislike what I am sharing. The fear of rejection lessens because even if the recipient of my message presses “delete” I have not personally felt the impact of that. Since fear of rejection is one of the biggest fears we face in evangelism, through social media I can tell people what I find more difficult to share one on one.
Still another advantage is the way you can add images, videos, diagrams to your presentation of the gospel. Since we are often talking to a very visual generation, that has all kinds of pluses.
However, social media has some drawbacks in relation to sharing your faith as well. For some, it can become an excuse for not talking to people. We too quickly say, “Well I said something on Facebook, Twitter, or through another channel.” Although that is well and good, there are times God wants us to ask Him for the boldness to clearly talk to a non-Christian about his salvation face to face (even if it is via a Zoom call). Social media should be an extension of our witness, not an excuse for avoiding witnessing in a personal conversation.
A second disadvantage is something that someone like me who spent his life in evangelism agonizes over. Often, when unbelievers object to the gospel, they are not telling you their real problem. Instead, they are expressing something that is a cover up for their real problem. Once when sharing Christ with a businessman in Louisiana, he mentioned to me that he was not convinced there was a heaven or hell. That did not fit anything he had said. So, I said to him, “That is not your problem. Your problem is that everything about Christianity you have experienced is boring. Boring church services, boring Christians. So, you feel if you come to Christ it will be good-bye happiness, hello boredom, here I come.” Immediately he responded, “You are exactly right. Knowing Christ does not seem that exciting.” I explained the joy and freedom we have through Jesus, and about an hour later he trusted Christ.
How did I discern that? By interacting with him, watching his facial expressions, observing his emotion, and asking him questions. Social media has its limitations when it comes to listening and seeing how people respond in a way that allows you to address their real concerns and needs.
A third disadvantage is in follow-up. Dawson Trotman founder of the Navigators, once said, “Follow-up is not done by something, it is done by someone.” He could not have said it any better. There is no greater way to follow-up with a new Christian than by meeting once a week –digitally, over the phone, or hopefully face-to-face soon – to help him get started in his Christian growth. It allows him to share questions, express feelings and see or hear the caring response expressed through your demeanor. Paul in I Thessalonians chapter 2 talks about caring for his new converts the way a nursing mother takes care of her baby and a father takes care of his son. Social media does not allow you to do that the way your presence would.
Evangelizing through social media does have two sides. Should it be used? Most definitely. But recognize its advantages and disadvantages and make any adjustments to empower it to be as effective as possible.
Copyright © 2020 R. Larry Moyer, used with permission.
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