Print Edition: March 8, 2015
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BY Matthew Warner
This social media revolution has left a lot of people feeling confused or awkward when it comes to sharing one's faith online.
Well, here are 10 Do's and Dont's when evangelizing online (and offline). Surely there are many more, so feel free to add more in the comment section below.
DON'T: Be a poser. DO: Be yourself. - Don't be a fake. It's okay that you're not perfect (it's an advantage, actually). Other people can relate to that. Everyone wants to be original, right? Well stop trying to be like somebody else. The surest way to be original is to be your true self. You'll be way more interesting, too.
DON'T: Be judgmental of people. DO: Speak the truth about their actions. - St. Ephraim said, "Be kind to everyone you meet, for every person is fighting a great battle." You don't fully know what any other person is going through or what it's like for them. Give them the benefit of the doubt and start by loving them first. But, if you truly love them, then you will make sure to share the truth with them about their actions (for their sake, not yours).
DO: Preach the gospel always. DON'T: Use words...except when necessary. - The best way to evangelize is with your actions, not your words. The same applies online. Don't use social media just to promote the faith. Use it to practice the faith.
DON'T: Argue just to win arguments. DO: Engage with people to win hearts for Christ. - Don't go looking for fights. Go looking for people in need and ask how you can help and serve them.
DON'T: Forget that effective evangelization starts with relationship. DO: Start with the relationships already in your life. - Too often we think we need to travel far and wide to evangelize. But God has already placed people in your life for you to serve. You may not like them. But maybe that's the point.
DON'T: Focus on how everyone else is wrong. DO: Affirmatively share what you've found to be right. - It's easy to sit back and point out what's wrong with everything. Anyone can do that. It's much more effective if you can share what's so great about what's right. Behind every "no" in the "rules" of the Church there is a much more profound and fulfilling "yes." Make sure people know that.
DON'T: Pretend you're always right. DO: Admit when you're wrong. - This builds on point #1 above. Admitting your wrong is not only good for your own humility, it's even better for the relationship (point #5) you're building with somebody...because it's honest and true. And remember, you don't have to have an answer for everything. Just join the journey in finding it. The Church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints! If you go around pretending we're all perfect --- it's false advertising (and will turn people away from the Church).
DON'T: Just say whatever you feel whenever you feel like saying it. DO: Self-edit and remember who's "in the room." - You can do a lot of harm very quickly with your careless words. Words are powerful. Remember who might be listening in when you're saying things online. Your words and actions there can have ramifications far wider than what is immediately obvious to you (or that you ever know about).
DON'T: Talk more than you listen. DO: Spend more time learning your faith than preaching about it. - In any good relationship or conversation, it's a good idea to listen more than you talk. Additionally, if you're ever going to have something worth sharing, you need to make sure you're spending the time to fill yourself up with good things first!
DON'T: Forget that your joy is one of the most powerful tools you have. DO: Let a joyful smile shine through your online presence. - St. Teresa of Avila said, “a sad saint is a bad saint.” Joy is infectious and attractive. It's not a great "sell" if you're angrily talking about what joy and peace your faith gives you. Do it with a glad heart.
What else? Anyone have any other DOs and DONTs? Please share below.
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