NASHVILLE (NRB) — Social media provides Christians with a far-reaching ability to communicate the Gospel of Jesus, experts said during the NRB Digital Media Summit at Proclaim 18, the National Religious Broadcasters’ International Christian Media Convention.
Christian communicators who gathered March 2 for the summit at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center heard a series of speakers encourage the use of social media to share the Gospel and to connect people with the Church.
Thousands of people each second will use Google for some kind of spiritual search, “and I think we’ve all known this is a great opportunity for evangelism,” said Nick Runyon, executive director of CV Outreach. “I don’t want to be too dramatic, but oftentimes the Gospel has an opportunity to shine brightly in these moments when people don’t know where else to turn.
“[D]igital tools give us a lot of opportunities. They give us a lot of ways to engage with people with the Gospel,” said Runyon, who trains ministries in the use of digital technology.
“And we also recognize that the Church by and large is kind of missing these opportunities.”
The goal of CV Outreach – a program of global ministry Christian Vision (CV) – is to “connect people to the local church,” Runyon said. “In this case, the Church’s mission is our mission.
“But we’re not marketing the Church,” he said. “We’re seeking to intersect with people that are seeking for spiritual questions.”
The opportunities require the right content and the right approach, speakers told summit participants.
Billy Hallowell, senior editor at Faithwire.com, said Christians should not focus on “complaining and panicking about where we are and what is happening in culture.” Instead, Christians “need to reframe and somewhat redefine our story, not changing our story, not changing what we stand for but realizing that truth doesn’t change but the way that we market it, the way that we need to tell our story, that has changed,” he said.
“Let’s reframe and redefine our story,” Hallowell told the audience. “Let’s use social and digital media to do that. ... [L]et’s reach people with good stories.”
Bob Hutchins – a digital marketing executive in Franklin, Tennessee, whose team helped with online campaigns for The Passion of the Christ and other major movies – encouraged participants to ask themselves some questions before posting on social media or composing an email.
“Is this going to leave the person on the other end better than I found them? Is it going to be life affirming? Is it going to push back the effects of the fall in some small way?” he said.
“It’s more than just planting our flag. It’s more than just trying to make a point.”
The social media tools given to Christians “are the hands and the feet of God and His means of grace, allowing us to participate, to bring order to chaos, to make life more efficient, to make communication better, to make connections with other human beings,” Hutchins said.
Jeremy Burton, director of communications for the Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., also offered guidance on social media activity.
“Don’t do posts because you want to go viral,” he said. “Don’t get outside of your voice just to get some likes. It will give you some short-term gain, but it will not be good long term for your organization.”
Burton also told the audience, “[C]ontent is more important than quality on social media. Do not be afraid of going and just doing a talking head thing on Facebook Live.”
Aaron Mercer, NRB’s vice president of government relations, updated the summit audience on so-called “net neutrality,” which the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to rescind in December. NRB supported the repeal of the FCC’s 2015 action that had opened the door for the federal government’s assumption of new heavy-handed powers that could undermine freedom and innovation online.
Speaking of the 2015 vote, Mercer said, “If the internet wasn’t broken before, why should we try to fix it by getting more government involved in it?”
Mercer did highlight, however, that problems do exist with discrimination against Christian and conservative content by edge providers such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google.
“I don’t think that every one of those organizations is out to get us, but there is censorship happening, and it’s getting worse, and something needs to be done about it,” he said. “So, let’s work together to get it done.”
.BIBLE/American Bible Society, Finney Media, and Results Business Solutions sponsored the one-day summit.
By Tom Strode
Published: March 8, 2018