This year more people than ever gave up social media for Lent. Social media even beat out alcohol, which held the #1 spot on “things to give up for lent” for many years.
What does this say about what social media has done to us? There was a time when my friends expected me to keep up with their social media. Lately, I’ve had several friends tell me, “I don’t use social media. I only use it for getting inspiration, but I never post anything.”
As someone who’s spent the last six years figuring out how to use social media meaningfully, here’s how I figured out what exactly God wanted me to do with my accounts.
A Personal Story Of Social Media Redemption.
My own online journey was ignited by a deep personal motivation to create positive messages in the world. I was dissatisfied with what mainstream media offered me — it felt superficial — and I wanted to produce something that would uplift others, instead of promoting consumerism.
Early on, I transitioned my personal accounts into public accounts. I made a Facebook page on top of my profile. I started blogging to an invisible audience. I made videos directed to people I’d never meet. I knew that I didn’t want to simply share my life highlights with my friends, I wanted to publish stories that would inspire people who, like me, were also looking for positive influence.
It wasn’t until a year ago that I felt called to use social media to share my faith. At first, I wondered, almost in horror, “Am I supposed to be a Christian evangelist? Does this mean I need to litter my entire Instagram feed with my personal devotionals and quote Bible verses every day?”
I was afraid. I’d spent the last few years intentionally building a social media community centered around the topics of travel, adventure, wellness and living on purpose. I was inclusive, honest, considerate and respectful in how I addressed people with different beliefs. I didn’t touch controversial topics unless it was to contribute a loving and empathic point of view to the conversation.
I wasn’t sure how my audience would take a 180-degree shift to the Christian faith. I knew if I did it wrong, that I’d be up against people’s assumptions about religion. If I did it right, people would be intrigued and encouraged by the sense of hope that comes with faith. With 70,000 subscribers and followers circling in my sphere, the stakes were high. Every single person mattered to God and I didn’t want to screw this up.
Listening To God’s Voice Amid the Noise.
Rather than trying to sort out my faith in the public eye, I took a long break from social media. What started out as a three-month social media fast, turned into almost a year without posting. I posted a dozen times in 2018, but it was nothing compared to the 300+ posts I usually shared annually.
During this time offline, I reread my Bible from page one and was shocked by new revelations. God is a communicating God. He always speaking to His people! God wants to communicate with us! Surely, if God is moving in this day and age, He would be using the Internet. Surely, if Jesus were alive today, He would be tweeting. He would still use stories and parables, images and metaphors to speak into the hearts of humanity. He would be commissioning his disciples to go and spread the good news, including online.
At the same time, I saw books by Christian authors warning of the dire effects of social media. They seemed to assume that social media would only make millennials more conceited and narcissistic. “Don’t follow picture-perfect Instagrammers. Follow Jesus,” they warned omniously.
I took in all of these thoughts, opinions and sermons and I let God speak through the noise. I understood people’s concerns, but I couldn’t deny the calling I’d felt since childhood to create media. After all, I had the power of a publishing house in the palm of my hands. Literally.
After months of bringing my questions to God, I felt Him tell me, “Don’t try to be a cookie-cutter Christian. You don’t need to plaster Bible verses to convert people. Just speak honestly. Love on people. Be a friend to people. Let the Gospel be expressed through your life.”
How I Use Social Media To Share My Faith
Some people worship by singing songs. Some people feel closest to God when they take care of orphans and widows. I feel closest to God when I am writing, filming, and plotting out my next creation.
As a social media creator, I consider myself a psalmist. My posts are my psalms. I’ve learned to write with God, not just for God. There are times that I am so full of joy and thanksgiving, that my writing is an outburst of praise to God.
Of course, there are times when I wrestle with difficult questions. When we look at the psalms, they cover every human emotion. People asked God loudly and irreverently, “Where are you?! Why aren’t you saving us?!” There are psalms that question God, challenge God and praise God, but ultimately, they all direct our human experience heavenward. Pouring our hearts out to God is an ancient faith practice and one that brings us closer to God.
This is my way of “preaching” the Gospel. I let people in on my ongoing dialogues with God. As I work my faith out (Phillippians 2:12), I’m not afraid to tell people about my faith journey.
There are three things that give me a sense of peace, security, and certainty as I navigate the social media jungle.
- I always remind myself I only have an audience of one. Only God’s opinion and approval matters. There will be people who resonate deeply with what I share and others who may think I’ve lost my mind. Still, God first.
- I don’t have to be perfect. I can publicly admit that I don’t have all the answers. God does. Seek His will. My job is to lean into what God asks of me and let him take care of the results. I trust that as I do my part, God will do His part to draw people’s hearts to Him. My prayer is that sharing my faith journey honestly and openly will open the door for others to the goodness of God and welcome Him in.
- No single piece defines me. My identity as a child of God defines me. I don’t want one encounter with God. I’m going for a lifetime with God. My testimony will not be one story but thousands over the course of my life. Social media means that we have space to change, grow, evolve and become mature followers of Jesus.
Maybe God made social media so that we would stop trying to be perfect. We can trust that if we offer our lives to Him, He can take our messes and use them to point more people to Him. And sharing that vulnerability is about as normal as a human can get.