In the face-to-face, our conversations are often about the food we eat, the places we went, and our health issues. Or, it’s about the vacations we experienced. Social media has the same conversations; we’ve forgotten how to contribute and make those conversations count like in the face-to-face world.
You can start with, “How are you?” But, “good” or “fine” is all you’ll get for minimal effort. Sharing memes can be good conversation starters if they are true and if you create a lead in the status update to push for a long conversation. It’s often best to observe what others post and jump into that conversation. The point is to build on what we have in common and commit to long-term trust building.
Too often we use social media to post our opinions, but not our questions. Social media has a lot of opinions and too little room for questions. Social Media and face-to-face can be used in collaboration for meaningful friendships that can lead to Gospel conversations (if only we make the effort).
Philippians 4:8-9 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
The last seven years, especially these last two years, politics has become far less important to me than the relationships I want to foster. People on my newsfeed have expressed weariness over the anger, the riots, the hate, and all politics in general. Politics has its place, but we need to recall why we are on social media and how to start a meaningful conversation.
Here are some helpful conversation starters:
“How are you?”
Meaningfully comment on someone’s status and pursue that thread of conversation.
Share posts that edify and help someone be a better believer.
Follow up on a prayer request in text, private message, email, or on social media.
Think about some of your political posts. Are you demonizing an entire people group without understanding the dynamics of that group? Would those posts hinder other Christians from compassionately reaching that group because of that group’s impression of us from your public post? Ask a missionary about the people groups he or she serves. Post accordingly and with discernment.
The more I grow as a Christian, the more I understand that I don’t have a full understanding of situations, right and left political “news” have agendas, and situations are complex. Life doesn’t fit in neat boxes, and I must be a believer first and an American last. Listen first and speak last must be my new way of life.
Can I encourage you to think about what you post?
• Is it necessary?
• Is it true?
• Does it help us?
• Does it divide unnecessarily?
• Lastly, as a Christian, are you acting in the best interest of your audience?
Beginning Saturday, January 14, a new Vlog (a video or spoken blog rather than written) will begin.
Don’t worry though…I am replacing a written blog with a vlog so I am not stretching myself thin while I raise support. There are a couple of different purposes for doing this. Plus, I’ll explain who inspired this new series.
First, you can do missions and evangelism online from your living room without getting dressed and in your favorite fuzzy slippers. This is what my friend said as I worked with her on a video. Inspired by this, I thought, “What a great way marry humor and serious subjects together in one five minute vlog!”
The Vlog will do two things (I hope):
Inspire the church to think outside the box when thinking about missions and evangelism.
Inspire the person seeking to know Jesus to converse with me.
One of the most important pieces of advice I read some years ago was, “Choose a broad subject when deciding on what kind of blog you want to write so you never run out of subjects.”
The blog will cover:
Social Media and technology stories.
Not everyone is into the video thing, but most of the world is as evidenced by YouTube’s ever growing audience as the top video social network in the world. That is why my blog here will have half written blogs and half video blogs. It’ll be a goofy news segment or a casual devotional. I am buying some of the props this week and borrowed a prop in which I hope to have time to put the intro video together by Wednesday morning.
Will you pray for this new series? Like anything…being a Social Media Missionary means that I am constantly adapting to changing trends and ideas in order to reach the lost and the unloved and unchurched.
Right now I’m still using a cheap camcorder or my tablet or my phone for these segments. I am hoping this year to buy a DSLR camera to do better audio and video. I’m also not happy with my video program. It’s okay, but I still like Coral Video better. This is a program I have been using as a church secretary at Solid Rock Christian Fellowship. I also like Adobe Video, but that’s too expensive for now. As ministry grows and as support grows so will my equipment so I can steadily improve online ministry.
But the most important aspect of online ministry is ENGAGEMENT. All these fancy things are simply vehicles for engagement.
Most of the time, social media has been a blessing to me. Not all relationships can withstand social media though. Sometimes, it is better for friends not be “friends,” and in light of missionary work, today I took some steps to build some healthy boundaries and keep healthy friendships well. Here are my three ways to build better relationships:
My personal Facebook: This is for friends, family, co-workers, and those “grandfathered” in over the years (because, well, we’ve become great friends from a distance). Oftentimes, I will ignore Facebook friend requests unless I know them as a personal friend. If you are a ministry contact, please “like” my Facebook page or request via email to join our Technology and Missions Page. I do want to connect with you, but Facebook limits the amount of friends one can have on their personal profiles. This is why I created a page. I have 22 social networks. I am active on most of them; and all of them, when I am 100% supported.
Healthy Discussion by Example: One of the things I have done over the years was to create a comment policy so discussions and disagreements can be civil. This applies to all my Facebook accounts and some other social media where I can monitor the thread. I believe we can treat each other with love and not agree with everything the other person stands for. In doing so, I delete comments that are name calling, a put down to the person’s character, or come off as angry and sound confrontational. There are 52 Bible Verses talking about “self-control.” James 1:19-20 says, “Know this, my dear brothers and sisters: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to grow angry.This is because an angry person doesn’t produce God’s righteousness.” I believe we can be loving to others with any confrontations done in private message, text, email, phone call, or face-to-face; never in the public eye.
Refraining From Being Right: The church I work at is doing a sermon on the tongue, and James really hits it hard on the power of the tongue and its consequences. When perusing my social media, I may disagree with someone, but I only respond if it is a misrepresentation of the truth or if there is a chance they are open to discussion. Politics can be a stumbling block to some in seeking Jesus. It is such a hard balance to maintain. Share my politics and become that stumbling block or say nothing? I believe a happy middle ground exists. I think people can share their views if we all practice tolerance towards those we disagree with (and I’m not talking about the tolerance in the accepting way). Tolerance in being kind as we disagree. This goes back to point number two. Or if a conversation is going badly, refraining from further discourse to preserve the friendship. Make sure you are relying on the Holy Spirit’s guidance as you navigate social media and relationships.
What have you found in your relationships that work?