By Ron Hutchcraft
Social media is a significant part of our daily lives, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, and more. Those of us who know Christ have a responsibility to try to capture these powerful media to help people we know come to Jesus.
So, how are we doing?
Paul's passion was that "by all possible means, I might save some." Social media is a means too powerful not to capture for Christ, for spiritual rescue.
The fulfillment of Jesus' prophecy about the last days has never been more within reach: "This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come" (Matthew 24:14).
This comes down to thinking intentionally about using social media as a means for getting Jesus on the radar of people you know. Praying, and looking for natural opportunities to bring up the difference your relationship with Jesus is making.
By positioning yourself in this way, you can become a spiritual "go to" person when your friends hit a wall. If you occasionally, appropriately and naturally drop in some Jesus-moments/ comments, you will be quietly establishing yourself as someone in their life who's in touch with God.
When they are at a crisis point in their life and thinking about needing God's help, they're going to think, "Who do I know who's close to God?" They may very well think of you.
The principles of sharing Jesus in the environment of social media are not much different from sharing Jesus in our everyday lives.
1. Pursue relationships with people who need Jesus.
"For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost." Luke 19:10 NLT
This was the personal mission statement of Jesus!
With that in mind, intentionally seek to establish "friend" relationships with people from your school, your community, your workplace, your club or "tribe." Don't limit yourself to a "cocoon" of friends who are already going to heaven. Remember, Jesus' critics rightly called Him "friend of sinners." What a great goal to shoot for in social media! Most of us have people in our past who we wish we had shared Christ with, or people we knew before we ourselves knew Jesus. When you show up on social media platforms, people from every chapter of your life tend to start showing up. Friends and acquaintances from junior high, high school, college and countless arenas of your life. Social media platforms give you a chance to go back and have a second chance to let them know about your Jesus.
Action Step: Search for friends from high school. Initiate a friend request, along with a personal message of your interest in reconnecting through social media.
2. "Think Lost"
"The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned." Matthew 4:16 NIV
Whatever you communicate, remember that you always have a lost audience. We are so used to speaking "Christian," that many times we forget how to communicate in a way that can relate to someone who doesn't know Christ.
Try to interpret every piece of communication as if it is being read and viewed by friends who don't know Christ. If you make a commitment to "think lost," you will begin to develop increased sensitivities towards hearing your communication through the ears of your lost friends. This is fundamental to any and all communication through social media.
3. Avoid "Christianese" - the religious words lost folks don't understand.
"We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God." 2 Corinthians 5:20 NIV
When you talk about Jesus, use everyday words that a lost person can understand. We speak our "Christianese so fluently, so naturally...but the people who most need to understand it have no idea what many of our words mean.
4. Love them in their language.
"Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God." Ephesians 5:2 NLT
Be the rare person who genuinely and honestly shows care and concern for others.
Comment on what other people are sharing from their life. Dialogue with others based on what is important to them.
Remember their birthday, by sharing a specific reason you're grateful for their life. Your comment could stand out among many if you take the extra step to encourage them.
When there's illness or loss, show up with an appropriate word of sympathy or encouragement. Share a short, appropriate excerpt from Scripture that has anchored you in a tough time.
Action Step: Send birthday wishes to three people this week. Complete and include this sentence, "I am deeply impressed with the way you..."
5. Use your life experiences as the primary source for talking about Jesus.
"One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!" John 9:25 NIV
Social media is about your life, not so much about your beliefs. It's an environment of sharing, not selling. If it feels like you're selling Jesus, a lot of folks will tune you out. But it's okay to share a difference Jesus is making in a certain life experience. Essentially, you're sharing your Hope Story in life-based, bite-size chunks. The central question our lost friends and family need the answer to is this - "What real difference does this Jesus make? How is life different with Jesus in contrast to life without Jesus?"
Write for one person, not to make a point to an audience. This helps keep the tone intimate and personal as opposed to "preachy sounding."
If your child says or sings something special about Jesus, try to capture that to share with your online friends. It's amazing what children can get away with saying - things that might seem offensive if an adult said them but seem so innocent - even touching - coming from a child.
Also, start where you left off spiritually with most of the lost people on your friends list, and go from there. If you have some explaining to do about "who I was" vs. "who I am now," begin there. For example, high school friends only have high school memories to compare the new you with.
Be a real person. Don't always be talking about Jesus - you don't want to establish a reputation for "there he goes again." Let them see that someone who belongs to Jesus has fun, goes through hard times, has ups and downs like anyone else.
6. Pray "with" them, when there's a natural opportunity.
"The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results." James 5:16 NLT
One of the most effective ways to communicate a personal relationship with Jesus is to pray with someone. I've never had anyone turn me down on that offer, and there have often been tears in their eyes when I open mine. Most people have never heard their name in a prayer or someone talking to God on their behalf. Social media allows you to write what you would pray in person, thus demonstrating tangibly what it's like to be in a personal relationship with God.
Keep it short, simple, caring. Instead of saying, "I'll pray for you," consider writing your prayer for them. This can be sent as a private message, or when appropriate, post on a friend's wall. Finish this sentence..."Lord, will you please help..."
They'll be able to see in the way you talk to God what it's like to be in a personal love relationship with God.
7. Make sure it's all about Jesus - not about church or religion.
"For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified." 1 Corinthians 2:2
"It's all about Jesus." Lost people get very confused by all our denominations, churches and Christian sub-culture stuff. Stick to Jesus, and your personal relationship with your Creator.
Stay away from posting political and "anti" comments. Those only serve to alienate lost friends and take the focus off Jesus. Be known for what you are "for," not for what you are "against." Stay away from toxic debates, always offering a tone of love and respect.
Also, remember that lost people act lost, and we can't expect their behavior or worldview to align with God's Word.
8. Capture "Shared Seasonal Moments" or "World Events" to talk about Jesus.
"Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days." Ephesians 5:16 NLT
There are certain days or situations when talking about Jesus can be extremely natural. For example, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Good Friday, and Easter are all special holidays where it can be natural to talk about Jesus.
Sample post for Good Friday: "Two key words for today, Good Friday: ‘for me.' Jesus, when You died on that cross, You took my place, and You did it for me."
Similarly, if there is a major news story, and "everybody is talking about it," find creative ways to communicate about Jesus.
Sample post: "I am praying today for the earthquake survivors and rescuers. Really causes me to examine my priorities."
"Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter." Proverbs 24:11
Content included here is copyrighted © 2021, and was first published in © 2011, based on the book, "A Life that Matters," by Ron Hutchcraft (Moody Press). Book and small group DVD curriculum are available from Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, Inc.