Guidelines for Evangelizing Online and When Interacting on Social Media

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21st century technology makes it easier than ever to evangelize.  Remember that when you say something in cyberspace, it may remain there for a very long time. Be charitable, prayerful and empathetic, and know when to turn the other cheek.

Here are guidelines I’ve come up with for evangelizing and interacting online.

Online Interaction Is Recorded

It’s important to keep in mind that however you interact with someone online — whether it’s through email, your blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Goodreads, Pinterest, Instagram —there is a potential of your words remaining in cyberspace for a long time. On public websites, it’s like you’re discussing an issue with someone in front of an audience of hundreds (maybe thousands) of people, and it’s being recorded. Your behavior online will serve as an example to hundreds or thousands of people.

Charity First and Foremost

Ensure your behavior and language are loving and appropriate, no matter how someone responds. Evangelization is meant to be primarily a loving act.

Pray Before Responding

Think and pray before responding. There’s no rule that states you must respond within minutes or even hours or every question or comment you receive online.

Stick to the Facts

People tend to become emotional, especially when dealing with religious issues. Try to set aside any emotional feelings you have and stick to the facts.

Answer Questions Succinctly

Keep your messages as brief as possible and to the point.

Phrase Your Words with Empathy

One of the ‘facts’ you can stick to is that every person is a beautiful creation of God, deserves dignity and could probably use a little understanding. ‘As brief as possible’ shouldn’t translate to ‘abrupt and cold.’ It takes a special effort to remember (and pray for) the person behind all the technology.

Don’t Be Afraid to Say “I don’t know and I need to research this.”

An internet search or a quick call to your local priest could help you avoid making pronouncements about gray areas that you are not sure about. Remember that the warning about ‘not believing everything you read online to be automatically true’ also applies to your words.

Be Realistic

When people are honestly open, they will listen, but very few will change their minds on the spot. Help plant the seed of truth and the Holy Spirit will water it. It often takes years of gradual change for a person to embrace the truth.

Ignore Comments That Are Not Helpful to the Conversation

“Trolls” often lurk on social media with the express purpose of trying to trash or destroy any possibility of meaningful conversation with Christians or Catholics. I’ve learned to ignore these people as they are not interested in anything but starting trouble and being uncharitable.

Know When to Leave the Conversation

If the conversation is taking too much of your time or if a Facebook thread or blog conversation is either getting nasty and people are becoming uncharitable, know when to leave the conversation.

Can you think of other guidelines that may help in evangelizing online or when interacting on social media?  Please feel free to share in the comments below.

Read more of our Tech Talk columns.

Copyright 2014 Ellen Gable Hrkach

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About Author

Ellen and her husband, James, have been certified NFP teachers for the Couple to Couple League since 1984. She’s also an award-winning, bestselling author of five books, an editor, a publisher and a self-publishing book coach. Her newest novel, A Subtle Grace, recently hit #1 in Christian Historical Romance. Ellen lives in Pakenham, Ontario with her husband and sons. Contact her at: fullquiverpublishing(at)gmail.com

4 Comments

  1. Ellen this article is fantastic! You’ve put into very succinct terms something that should be a procedure manual for all of us working in the New Evangelization. Thank you!!

  2. Great article Ellen! I’ve recently witnessed some “social media gone bad” with regard to a conversation about a local issue and I dearly wish the people involved would read your article.

    Thanks for writing this!

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