In the context of all my Facebook related blog posts lately I’ve heard a lot of people express how they personally use Facebook. One way that I frequently hear is that they use Facebook “only to evangelize…and not for relationships, friends, etc.” This is a perfect example of how not to use Facebook. Not only have I had a lot of people tell me that’s how they use Facebook, but I personally experience a lot of people using it that way, too. In fact, I’ve probably used it a bit too much that way in the past as well - which is how I learned that this is not how to use Facebook. It’s also not a very good way to evangelize.
Facebook is designed to build relationships and to connect with friends. That’s its primary purpose. It’s most effective when used in accordance with its purpose. Additionally, most other people you encounter on Facebook are using it for that purpose and expect you to be using it for that purpose as well.
So don’t become “friends” with somebody on Facebook strictly to evangelize them. It makes for bad friendships and, in the end, ineffective evangelization. They aren’t trusting you with a “friend” connection to be bombarded with your opinion…even if it also happens to be the Gospel truth. In an indirect way, you are violating their trust. It’s a form of abuse.
It’s a lot like walking into somebody’s living room and then preaching to them the whole time. It’s kinda rude. And most of all, it doesn’t work. in fact, it often pushes them away.
Jesus didn’t just bark behind a megaphone all day, forcefully inserting himself into the lives of the people. He did the opposite. He drew people in. They chased after Him. They followed Him into the hills and the desert and wherever he would go. They asked Him the questions and they begged Him to speak.
And the reason they did all of that is because they were hungry for Truth. They were hungry for Jesus Christ. All he had to do was simply be Himself. He created real, genuine and sincere relationships with the people he came in contact with - no matter how brief they may have been. He loved them. And he was authentic.
If we but do the same in our relationships, people will be drawn to us in the same way. Not because of us, per se, but because we are living authentic Christian lives that truly make Jesus Christ present to others. Facebook is no different. Be authentically you. Build real friendships. Make Christ present in the way you live, not by ramming religious platitudes down your friends’ feeds…no matter how tempting it may be. You’ll end up missing some great opportunities to truly connect with real people, to draw them in and to let the Holy Spirit work on them (and, more likely, you).
(Bonus reading: Link Round up for the Pope’s Truth, Proclamation and Authenticity of Life in the Digital Age)