How Social Media can become Your Social Ministry
By Cary Lewis, CSPC Director of Communications
In my job, I often hear people say social media has destroyed our culture. Certainly it’s an easy target on which to place blame.
One thing we need to understand is that younger generations -Millennials and Gen Z- don’t usually have a strong opinion on whether social media is good or bad. To so many of them, it just is. It’s been part of their lives for as long as they can remember- 98 percent of people ages 6-24 have a smart phone. They’re digital natives and they’re online constantly.
Because of technology, their lives are both easier and harder.
They’re certainly more electronically connected than previous generations, and that makes some of life’s day-to-day functions easier. If today’s young people need to reach someone, it’s second nature to text, DM, or snap the other person and usually get a fast response. Research for schoolwork is now generally a matter of entering search terms and clicking rather than making the slog to a library and painstakingly combing through books, periodicals and microfiche. Such speed and convenience are genuine benefits unavailable to previous generations.
But the other side of the coin is that, thanks in large part to their reliance on technology, today’s young people are also more isolated than the generations before them. They don’t physically gather with friends as much as their parents did. This is why Gen Z has been described as “the loneliest generation.” COVID, of course, has only intensified this worrisome trend.
The younger generations are right. Social media is not uniformly good or bad. In and of itself, it’s neutral, just like every other advancement in communications history. The written word, printing press, radio, and TV were all neutral. Each could be –and has been- used for good or ill.
If all Christians cast aside technology like social media and write it off as the enemy’s domain, he’ll be glad to use it as a tool for bringing about darkness and evil. But if we commit to claiming social media in the name of Jesus, the Lord can use our efforts to produce light, encouragement, and spiritual life.
All the major advancements in communications history were accompanied by controversy, yet each resulted in the kingdom of God growing faster than it had before. So, the question is not whether social media is good or bad, but whether we’ll claim it to share gospel truth and to show people what genuine, Spirit-knit Christian community looks like.
To be clear, I don’t think everyone should be on social media. There are lots of good reasons to stay off. But if you as a Christ-follower choose to use it, consider how. Do you sit and scroll every night with no real purpose?
What if you turned social media into your social ministry? Could you take every opportunity to post things that encourage people; that could potentially lead them to Jesus? What if instead of having 1000 “friends” you wouldn’t speak to if you bumped into them at the grocery store, you had a smaller circle of online friends for whom you prayed? Maybe instead of commenting on posts with “Queen” or “GOAT”, you could say something meaningful and real about the person who’s the subject of a given post. You might even want to take it a step further and, instead of leaving a comment, send a DM to ask how your social media friend is truly doing. These are just a few examples of small ways you can work to build true community online.
We can show this never-fully-present, lonely generation that there’s more out there. We can show them what Christian community looks like: a spiritually-connected, loving, imperfect family transformed by grace, worshiping Jesus, and joyfully pursuing obedience to His word together. A true redemptive community gives opportunities for others to peek inside. Then it invites them to come in and experience something refreshingly different than anything else this life offers.
We are called to be light in dark places. It’s time the Church claimed these online spaces, changed the narrative and showed the lost what true community empowered by Christ’s incomparable love looks like.
If you’re a Christian and you’re on social media, please prayerfully consider how a tweak in your approach could turn into a form of ministry that yields eternal consequences. If you’re interested in learning more about digital ministry, please reach out to me: firstname.lastname@example.org.