Throughout history, the method by which the church responded to Jesus’ Great Commission has been propelled by technology. For Paul, it was the Roman road system. For the Reformation, it was the printing press. And for us today, it is the power of the Internet literally in the palm of the hand of almost every man, woman and child in our local community.
Facebook and other social media platforms have radically changed our society. Now, everyone with a smart phone or computer can have their own “profile” on the Internet; they can connect with people they would have otherwise lost contact with; they can share news en masse; they can have online conversations with both friends and strangers; they can wish people a happy birthday because the platform tells them to; they can even end relationships with a quick click of the “unfriend” button. For many, Facebook and other sites are difficult to trust. Certainly, there are concerns that one’s data is stored forever in the stratosphere or “cloud”, and that using these social media platforms have taken away real social contact between people.
Having said that, most people around us still use email Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms for more and more of their waking hours. 1.5 billion people have a Facebook account, including 98% of people aged 18-24. It is free, it promotes community, it is open to anyone, and it is global. For these reasons, social media is wonderful for evangelism.
If you are a user of Facebook or email, here are some things you can do to evangelise:
- “Check in” to church on Sundays and write a post about a song or prayer or sermon that you appreciated, and why.
- All our sermons and Minister’s Messages are on the West Epping website; email links to people that you think might benefit from reading them.
- Share West Epping’s social media posts with your friends.
- Send your friends private messages or emails, just to say that you are praying for them and are here for them.
- If you see someone post or email that they are going through a difficult time, don’t just “like” it – follow up, and invite them out for coffee.
- Share bits of your faith on Facebook – a Bible verse that speaks to you, or a quote, or an anecdote about how God is working in your life.
Why bother? Why do this? Because the Bible calls us to communicate the Gospel in a way that will help others understand and receive it. Paul writes “I have become all things to all people, so that by all possible means I might save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:22) Paul was so eager to see as many people know Jesus as possible that he adjusted his approach to evangelism depending on who he was talking to. John and I often hear good feedback about our sermons, worship, music, kids ministry and hospitality – but this means nothing without grabbing the attention of people beyond our walls. If we desire to reach out to our community with the gospel, then we need to be present where they are spending their time. Today, that place is social media. The people in our local community who we’d like to reach out to, invite in, and share the Good News with? They speak the language of Facebook.