The call of evangelism is to witness to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior among those who do not yet know him. This witness takes many forms, as individual believers, congregations and the church as a whole respond to Christ’s Great Commission to “Go, therefore, and make discipleship of all nations…” [Matthew 28:19] The gospel of Christ crosses boundaries of culture, nation, language, race, gender, philosophy, economic and political status. As Cumberland Presbyterians, we affirm a “Whosoever Will” gospel that proclaims that all those who believe in Jesus Christ find salvation through him. [John 3:16] There is in this witness a Christ-inspired compassion, commitment to social justice and peace, concern for the whole person, for communities and nations, and for the natural world. It requires the individual Christian, the congregation, the denomination, and the church universal to faithfully represent in word and deed the mission of God made known in Christ. Evangelism is living, showing and telling the Good News of Jesus Christ in witness to those who are not followers of him. It is also the call to continual evangelization within the fellowship of the church. The church that engages in evangelizing itself — bringing its attitudes, mission priorities, worship integrity and commitment to service under the lens of the gospel — is a church that will take seriously the evangelization of others.
Connecting with our neighbor through Social Media
This article was originally published in the Missionary Messenger magazine in 2017. The opening paragraph and minor edits have been made to the article.
With the encouragement to “shelter in place”, our ways of interacting and communicating with one another has changed rapidly. We are adapting quickly and leaning on technology even more to allow us to remain connected with loved ones, co-workers, friends and needed services. How we communicate with others is a real indication of what role our faith ranks in our lives; including on social media.
Social media is a term we often use to describe what we share on sites and apps like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. We post and comment through selfies, GIFs, Emojis, and short videos to liking, favoriting, reposting, retweeting, repinning and reblogging. What is social media? Social media has become an instrument of communication that allows us to interact with one another by both sharing and consuming information. It is web-based tools that allow us to create communities and to connect with others. Confused? Lifewire.com breaks down common features of social media to include user accounts, profile pages, hashtags, news feeds, personalization, like buttons, comment sections, reviews, rating or voting systems. If you have visited a website or used an application with at least one of these features, then you have participated in social media. Social media gives us the ability to instantly and easily connect with others around the world with the mere movement of our fingertips but while this power of communication is accessible and convenient we often overlook the concept of expanding our idea of “neighbor” to the digital world. Each of the synoptic gospels identify the second greatest commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself”. Social media provides us with the opportunity to be a loving neighbor to both friend and stranger online in real time. Here are some ways we can connect with neighbor through social media:
Be honest. One of the most desired characteristics in a neighbor is honesty. It can be tempting for a little self-image manipulation on social media indicating that every portion of our lives is both important and fascinating. Since we have complete control of what we broadcast on social media and since we are disciples of Christ, may we honestly represent ourselves as such.
Be encouraging. Life is difficult, challenging, hard. We face danger and the unknown can be scary. Sometimes we share our hardships and burdens online to connect with our community for solace, advice and comfort. Hourly, we read someone’s post or comment of a trial that someone is facing. If someone is going through a difficult time and requests prayers – we can actually share comfort by writing a prayer instead of sending a sad emoji or saying, “I’ll pray for you.”
Seek the truth. News feeds, gossip, rumors can overwhelm use as our friends and followers increase over time. Before posting, commenting, tweeting, or blogging about an individual or idea dig deeper to make sure that it is accurate and true; seek out the source. When in doubt or if it may hurt a neighbor’s privacy or feelings refraining from acknowledging gossip, rumor or fake news.
Social media is a wonderful way in connecting with neighbor and gives us another means of sharing the life transformation that is given through Jesus. We can connect with family, friends, strangers and enemies of how we see and feel God working in our lives. We have a means of sharing what God means to us, our church, our youth group, our Sunday school class, our worship and study. We can impact the digital space we move through daily in positive ways in our honesty, encouragement and our quest for truth. Our posts, likes, tweets, selfies, Gifs, videos, comments, pins and blogs can glorify God and connect with our neighbor in new and creative ways.
For more information on Evangelism you may contact T.J. Malinoski at (901) 276-4572, ext. 232, or by e-mail.