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The Digital Gospel Thirteen tips for sharing your faith online BY DAVID GILES







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ocial media: waste of time or of paramount importance? Should we get involved? How does it all work? If this was a tweet, it would end … now! Thankfully, the printed page does not limit us to 140 characters—so I have more than enough room to explore how the world has taken to social media and why it’s crucial that Christians get involved. The most recent statistics reveal that Facebook has more than 1.3 billion active users. Twitter, on the other hand, has 550 million active accounts. Put simply: that’s a lot of people. Because you’re reading this in a magazine, I don’t know whether you count yourself among this multitude 14 • February 2015 • Salvationist

or not. As a Christian, I would suggest to my fellow-believers that they probably should be. The technology that has developed over the last few years (the world-dominating Facebook is not even a teenager yet) is well-suited to our mission to fulfill the Great Commission. Salvation, we are reminded in Romans 10, is for all who call on the name of the Lord: “But how can they call to him for help if they have not believed? And how can they believe if they have not heard the message? And how can they hear if the message is not proclaimed? And how can the message be proclaimed if the messengers are not sent out? As the Scripture says, ‘How wonderful is the coming of messengers who bring good news!’ ”

If we’re not present on social media, we aren’t conveying that message to the fullest extent. Or, worse, our non-participation could be creating the misplaced impression that we don’t care or aren’t interested. That said, for those of us who are online, it’s important that our “digital persona” is kept in check. Here’s a challenge. Check your last five tweets, Facebook updates or Instagram pictures. Would someone randomly happening upon them—and them alone—be able to deduce that you are a Christian? A Salvationist? At the same time, I believe we should also be real. If our social-media output comprises nothing but randomly selected Bible verses and inane “Jesus loves you” thoughts for the day, we run the risk of being written off as irrelevant. The earth-dwelling Jesus lived in the real world, where there was grit, discomfort and suffering. There is a balance to be achieved. Let’s try to be authentic and not fob people off with convenient—but ultimately crass— “explanations” for illness, natural disasters or the shortcomings of Christians who have erred. So how can we proclaim the gospel message effectively? Here are a few tips. 1. Make friends Follow interesting people on Twitter. Not just Christians (although they can be interesting, too). Comment on their updates—particularly where you share a common interest. You can interject in most conversations by prefacing your message with the originator’s @-handle (the Canada and Bermuda Territory’s is @Salvationist … make sure you follow us and share with us!). 2. Use hashtags Many Twitter conversations include one or more hashtags to help keep everyone in on the topic (our posts, for instance, often use #SalvationArmy). This makes it easier to search for particular themes. Facebook has recently got in on the hashtag act as well. 3. “Do” God … If your faith shapes who you are, you have a responsibility to talk about it. Have you been to your corps today? Tweet about it. Thinking about a particular Bible passage? Share it in a Facebook status. Praying about an issue of per-

Salvationist - February 2015  
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