Your Digital Faith

Do you have a Facebook page?  You probably do.  If you’re “of a certain age” you probably signed up for it so you could keep up with your kids and grandkids.  If you’re like me, maybe you were also able to reconnect with some of your high school and college friends that you’d lost touch with over the years.  You check in every few days and see the latest photos and status updates and maybe you play a game or two.  But you really don’t take Facebook too seriously. How about Twitter?  Have you signed on to follow your favorite celebrities or sports stars?  In this political season the “Twitterverse” is an active, ever-changing landscape of political news, reduced to 140 characters.  It’s a fun and mostly-harmless way to catch the latest news an occasionally put in your two-cents worth.  You don’t take Twitter too seriously.
But if you aren’t valuing Facebook and Twitter, you might be missing out.  Like it or not, social media is where much of our common societal discourse occurs.  In many ways, social media like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogs have taken the place of the op-ed page of the newspaper.  It’s where we gather together in the digital age. Immediate and worldwide, it’s where people connect, discuss, form opinions, challenge thoughts and pass on what’s important to them.  Like anything else, social media is a tool and how you use it and what you use it for determines its value.  It’s like learning to speak a new language.  It takes practice, including knowing when to talk and when to listen.  And social media can’t be a substitute for personal, face-to-face relationships.  But if you’;re a Christian, I think you need to include social media in your evangelization.
I’m a Catholic writer and blogger with both Facebook and Twitter accounts.  Most everything I post is about faith.  But most of you reading this probably use social media for staying in touch with friends and family.  What better place to share your faith than with the people in your life?  Now before you say, “But I’m not a writer,” or “I wouldn’t know where to begin” —-let me offer you a starting place.  This is an idea that’s been around the net for a while, but I think it’s a good starting point.          
Tithe your posts and tweets.  That’s right, I said “tithe.”  As Christians, we already know the Biblical history of tithing our treasure to God.  A tithe was a tenth of the animals and produce which the Israelites gave to the Lord’s Temple.  We’re called to share a tenth of our gross income with the Church.  Why not also dedicate a tenth of your postings and tweets to the Lord’s work?  Being a Christian means living and sharing our faith with others.  What better place to share the Good News than where everyone is already gathering?  You don’t have to be a theologian or priest or Biblical scholar.  Start out small.  Share your favorite faith author or book.  Post a link to the author or the book, but make sure it’s a working link.  Learn how to copy and paste URL addresses if you don’t already know.  Share a link to your favorite ministry or charity.  You’ll educate others about their work and the charity might benefit from a visitor’s donation, too.  Share Scripture quotes that are meaningful to you, but don’t just post a verse.  Tell your readers why this verse is important to you and how it’s helped enrich your faith life.  If you post verses without connecting them to your relationship with Christ, you’ll miss out on making that person-to-person connection that’s at the heart of ministry.
Wow.  Did I just say “ministry”?  Yep.  Using social media to share the Gospel can be a ministry just like leading a prayer group or making sandwiches for a soup kitchen.  Post a prayer need you might have.  It can be something you want to share with others, or it can remain a private prayer intention.  Be a witness to what Christ is doing in your life or in the greater life of your family or your parish.  Don’t be shy about sharing both the hills and the valleys of your faith journey.  You’re already sharing your vacations, family weddings, graduations and celebrations online—share your faith in Christ as well.  And remember I suggested this was a tithing experience.  Begin by sharing a tenth of your online presence to God.  You’ll be transformed when you invite Christ into your online life.  You’ll be a witness to the Gospel.  You’ll be enriched by the feedback you’ll get from others.  But be wary, too.  Sharing your faith means you’ll be challenged at times.  You might even be ridiculed and mocked.  Social media has a strong anti-faith presence.  So be wary, but be fearless.  Be like the Apostles and boldly share your love for Christ.  Sow the seeds of the Good News in your corner of the internet and pray that the Holy Spirit will allow them to take root and bear good fruit.  Working together for Him, we can help use the internet for His great purpose.
“In the world, you will have trouble.  But have courage; I have conquered the world.”
                                                                      —The Gospel of St. John 16:33


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