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The Pros And Cons Of Social Media Evangelization

 

This morning, I heard something neat on the radio. Catholic writer Pat Gohn was discussing her article Tithing On Social Media. Her suggestion was that we give God 10 percent of our status updates or tweets every time we use social media. That’s a great idea, isn’t it?

Pat’s suggestion got me to thinking about just how many people are afraid to share their faith on Facebook or Twitter. We’ll share music videos, pictures of our lunch (I have to admit that I enjoy looking at these!), we’ll gripe about the weather, comment on our favorite sports teams, but are often afraid to share anything about our faith. Originally, I had the same fear, but praying for an increase in the gift of fortitude has helped a lot! Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of using social media to evangelize.

CONS

1. People will think you’re strange – I can’t argue with this one, but many people thought that the prophets, the saints and even Jesus were all strange. If someone wants to consider me strange because I love the Lord and hope to live with Him forever in Heaven, I’m OK with that. No matter what we say or do in life, someone will think we’re strange. Depending on who that someone is, it may be a good thing!

2. You might lose a friend – It happens, but it’s better to get “unfriended” or lose a follower for speaking the truth than to retain the friend by failing to speak the truth. When we pray the Confiteor, we ask forgiveness not only for what we’ve done, but for what we’ve failed to do. Losing a friend for doing the right thing is not the end of the world.

3. You’ll be accused of being a “hater” – Speaking out against gay “marriage”, government attacks on religious freedom or abortion is going to offend some people. You’ll often be accused of suppressing civil rights, not caring about the poor, interfering with a woman’s right to choose or any number of unfair charges. Ignore it…they’re wrong! If you’re upholding the Church’s teaching on these issues, you’re in good company and can safely disregard any negative feedback.

PROS

1. You are following the Church’s call to evangelize – Jesus instructed the Apostles to “make disciples of all nations…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). The Church has extended that command to all baptized Catholics. If you use social media to post or tweet the “Good News”, you’re listening to Jesus. Good job!

2. You’re standing up for Jesus – The Lord stated that “every one who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in Heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in Heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33). Come judgment day, I want the Lord’s support. Therefore, I’m going to follow His advice and acknowledge Him before men by posting inspirational updates.

3. You may save a soul – One of the Spiritual Works of Mercy is to “instruct the ignorant”. I’ve learned a lot about the Catholic Faith by reading social media updates. There have been times when a Bible verse or reminder about Church teaching has literally stopped me in my tracks. Jesus reminds us that “every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required” (Luke 12:48). If we know and understand the teachings of the Catholic Church, we have the responsibility to share them with others. Did you ever read or hear something on Facebook or Twitter that made you realize you have to change your ways? I have. To be blunt, your status update can save someone from going to hell. Don’t underestimate the power of your words.

Many Catholics panic when they hear the word “evangelization” and feel that it’s “not something we do”. While that is often true, sharing the “Good News” of the Catholic Faith is something that we should be doing. After all, God “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). The Catholic Church has the fullness of truth and it’s up to us to share that truth with others. Social media provides an easy way to do it very effectively.

What is your experience with using social media to evangelize? What suggestions do you have? What are your concerns? Let me know!

11 Comments

  1. Marco says:

    Thanks be to God for social media,..that’s how most of my generation were evangelized,..the ones who practice their Faith anyway,..

  2. sam says:

    Hmmm. Your comment in your list of Cons, number 3; “Ignor it they’re wrong”… You cannot simply say someones view, or opinion, is wrong. You can only agree or disagree with it.

    1. Gary Zimak says:

      I hear what you’re saying Sam, but you need to look at my statement in context. The accusation that I’m defending against is that we’re “haters” because we support the Church’s teaching on certain moral evils in our society (such as abortion and gay “marriage”). If someone tries to accuse of this, then they are wrong. We’re not speaking out on these matters because of hatred, but rather to support the Church’s position that these actions are wrong.

  3. Steve says:

    Went from never posting to now putting youtube videos up of sermons, pictures, apologetics, etc. Love churchmilitanttv.com, http://www.audiosancto.org, Fr Z, et al. Sure have lost friends, sure been called every name in the book (esp when the gay ‘marriage’ thing in NC went down), but stay nice & kill them with kindness. Atheists are fun as well on there. They go from hi to hate in 0.2 seconds. Takes a lot to not yell but never not defend the Holy Father, the Church, etc.

    Viva Christo Rey!

    1. Gary Zimak says:

      Great approach, Steve…I’m glad you brought up the “kill them with kindness” idea. When debating these issues we need to be very careful that we remain charitable. That’s a trap many good people fall into when attempting to defend the Church and her teachings. The last thing we want to do is end up sinning because we’re trying to do the right thing!

  4. Howard says:

    I often think that the Internet as a whole is the wall of a restroom in a truckstop off the interstate. Certainly Facebook seemed to me to be that, which is one of the reasons I dropped it. I was never the type to write on restroom walls.

    Last time I noticed, though — in the restrooms on campus back when I was an undergrad — about 5% of the messages seemed to be religious in nature. Those always perplexed me. Did the writers really think that someone would be converted based on something he read in the men’s room? This always struck me as too unlikely to bear consideration, and it always seemed disrespectful that the Holy Name or a Bible verse was written in such a place.

    That, combined with the bit about “answer not a fool according to his folly”, makes me question the usefulness of Facebook evangelization.

    1. Gary Zimak says:

      Thanks for your comment, Howard. As someone who HAS seen faith-based posts on Facebook that did have an effect on my life, I’m an believer in the effectiveness of evangelizing through social media. How effective? I leave that up to the Lord. I just plant a few seeds here and there and let Him use those seeds to touch and convert the hearts of others.

  5. [...] The Pros & Cons Of Social Media Evangelization – Gary Zimak, Following The Truth [...]

  6. Barb says:

    I got on Facebook to see what my kids were up to, teen and adults. The standing joke is if Mom wants to know, check FB. (I literally learned I was to become a grandma on Facebook!) One of my sons’ friends is an atheist who loves to spark debates. When he asked ‘my Christian friends’ a question, I answered. I’ve been verbally attacked, insulted, read vile ‘interpretations’ of things like the Immaculate Conception. If my moderate Catholic ideas cast some doubt, cause just one person to re-think, or realize that there just ‘may be’ some truth in Christian beliefs and Traditions, then I have been a missionary. Sometimes it is as simple as posting a link or quote, getting a “like” from somebody to know I’ve made contact, somebody is thinking about what I’ve shared.

  7. Caleb Payne says:

    I call myself a “Facebook” Catholic as a joke sometimes. On a serious note, I found my old evangelical Lutheran friend on Facebook, found out he had joined the Catholic Church and is studying to be a priest in Rome. A few good reads on some of his posts, looked into a group he’d joined with fellow seminarians, and I just had to give Catholic’s the benefit of the doubt and study up a bit. Throw in some apologetics materials (from both sides), the Church Fathers, CCC, review of my Bible, and I show up at the nearest parish asking when I can start RCIA. After 12 yrs. a Protestant minister, I had nothing to protest any more. Since then I have had several very moving discussions through Facebook with many of my Protestant friends.

  8. Tammy says:

    There is some really great content to spread around, but could we please put an end to “forward to all your friends if you love Jesus” and anything involving images of Jesus with sparkly butterflies?

    I love to learn things and be exposed to really good articles / blogs, but the posts that tell me what to do or I dont love the Lord are tedious.

    One morning as I read FB in my jammies, I read a post from a nurse friend in TX trying to discharge a terminally ill baby from a small hospital that almost never did that task. I looked and saw another nurse friend who runs a Pediatric Hospice in Tennessee also online. A few clicks later and the 2 were networked and the baby got what they needed. God surely provided !!

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