(Originally posted 8-21-19)
The other day while mowing my lawn, I had a revelation. Some of my best thoughts nowadays come during that hour or so I spend out in my yard. The only downside is, I’m at a loss for a pen and paper (or my phone for that matter!). But if it seems like an idea worth chasing, I try and remember it and put some notes down as soon as I can. The bones of today’s blog are inspired by that recent time of lawn mowing, weed-eating, and just being outside spending some time in God’s creation. (Thanks God!)
I use the term “platform” today loosely. I’m not here to build up my own name with the thought that people will think I’m really great or something amazing. But I see and hear a lot in social media about building platforms. It seems like everyone is jockeying for position and for “airtime” among the masses. Some are just looking to find their tribe and those who identify with whatever message or interest they are expounding upon. As I’ve learned about social media and how to use it more effectively, the concept of building platforms comes up again and again.
A somewhat weird thought I had the other day is this: the means we use to build a platform on social media can cross over and influence the way we tell others about Jesus. What follows today are concepts I’ve heard and even used myself in expanding social media reach and discovery. But these concepts work in a broader scale if we are talking about building a platform for Christ. I’m not saying we abuse our opportunities to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc in a way that is off-putting. But we do use these tools in a way that allows people to be exposed to the Gospel. And we do them offline as much as we do them online. These 3 points are not exhaustive, but they give us a start in an attempt to make much of Christ in our daily lives. Let’s begin!
1. Be real and be authentic
The purpose of my instruction is that all believers would be filled with love that comes from a pure heart, a clear conscience, and genuine faith. 1 Timothy 1:5
I don’t know about you, but I can mindlessly scroll my news feed with rarely finding much of great substance or truth. Sure it is awesome to catch up with friends, see new photos, and be reminded of life events and milestones. But the percentage of those news items versus everything else on my wall is quite small. It’s hard to find the stories and things truly worth my time and interest. And I feel like most of us (myself included) want to portray an image that is plastic and phony…but looks great on the screen!
Here is where I think we do well as Christians to stand out: whether posting or just in real life, we have the opportunity to be authentic before people. We have hurts and hang-ups. We make mistakes. But we serve a God who is perfect and loving and just. The social media world has become a place where judgement is passed swiftly and opinions are readily available. If you dare to venture into it with an authentic faith, I guarantee you will take some flak. But you will also stand out as someone who truly lives for something greater than the likes, comments, and shares. On and off social media, be authentic and be real about Who Jesus is in your life. Make His name great.
2. Engage your audience and get to know them
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:24
A big tension between what I do on social media comes down to the question “What am I getting out of this vs. what is anyone else getting out of this?” My tendency to post about my life, my thoughts, my family…my this or that can become pretty all-consuming. Through the wonder of Facebook and Instagram, we’ve all become little stars and celebrities; important in our own minds but just how important in the broader scope of humanity? But to grow a particular platform’s reach, there must be audience engagement. Much of that engagement comes through just reaching out and asking “How are you doing? What are your dreams? What are your struggles? How can I pray for you?” Asking for the sake of asking without seeking anything in return.
This is true of life before and after the advent of phones and devices. In fact, we do well not to be limited to reaching out just via the airwaves, but to truly reach out. A coffee date with an old friend. A listening ear when your coworker rambles on (and no one else has the patience to stay). Being friendly and inviting a neighbor to church. These are tried and true methods of audience engagement and they work on and off social media. Try it and see for yourself.
3. ”Post” regularly about your faith
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15
Some people just have their “thing” and they can post about it all day. Maybe it’s their kids. Maybe a dog or cat. Maybe it’s an interest like hunting, golf, crafts, cooking or even something political. But 9 times out of 10, if that person has shared something, it is most likely about that one thing. You may even grow a little weary of seeing it everyday and silently “unfollow” or “mute” that person. Shhh….no worries, I won’t tell!
I truly believe as intentional as we are talking about our favorite things, we must be equally or more intentional talking and sharing about our faith. This doesn’t mean we are Bible-bashers or “hell and brimstone” preachers with a keyboard. We are simply sharing what means the most to us and incorporating it into every aspect of our lives…social media included. I’ve seen awesome testimonies of God taking a tragedy (disease, an accident, broken relationships) and through the use of social media, exposing that event and its resolution to the general public. We can often assume much of social media is garbage and throw-away content. But we’d be wrong to dismiss its value when we have the opportunity to use it to share about God. Christians need to be on these apps professing and proclaiming Christ on a regular basis!
I might be a bit old fashioned here. But when it comes to sharing the Gospel, there is a point at which I believe we must be quite clear about Who Christ is. Social media is a tool we can use to witness. And sometimes it’s easy to be bold behind a computer screen. But I don’t believe any technological advancement replaces the Great Commission and our call to “Go and make disciples.” Can Facebook help us do that? Certainly. Does it replace the need for face-to-face communication? I don’t think so.
What I share today about building a Jesus platform is honestly on my heart continually. I know how many hours I spend engaging these services and their usefulness to sharing a message. Social media is not going away; it’s a fixture in how we operate as a society. That being said, we must figure out how to use it effectively without it becoming an idol or an unhealthy part of our lives. I’m in that process. I know many who come across this blog and my pages (Facebook and Instagram) are in a similar place. I feel compelled to conclude here saying I will pray for our reach to always be first and foremost about Christ. I want to be held accountable for what I share and aspire to do. Let it all be for His glory.
As always, I love walking the journey with you. God bless!
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Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Ephesians 5:15-17
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