Everyone and their dog seems to have some sort of online profile today, if not five or six. (Really though, my friend actually made a Facebook page for her dog.) Because it’s now so much easier to communicate, Church leaders have encouraged members to use social networking to share the gospel. Elder David A. Bednar recently said, “It is no coincidence that FamilySearch and other tools have come forth at a time when young people are so familiar with a wide range of information and communication technologies. Your fingers have been trained to text and tweet to accelerate and advance the work of the Lord—not just to communicate quickly with your friends.”
Facebook, Twitter, and blogs have exploded in the last few years, and while some people claim that having so many profiles is not healthy (or even safe), there are also great ways to use each of them to do missionary work. Below are the most popular social media websites and some creative ways to use them to teach the gospel.
With more than 800 million active users worldwide, this website is the perfect place to start doing online missionary work. I have been constantly amazed by how creative people are getting when it comes to sharing the gospel through Facebook. When the Church started their Mormon Messages videos, my LDS friends began posting the videos on their walls. Facebook is pretty user friendly (which is fantastic for computer-incompetent people like me), so it’s easy to share these videos or even general conference clips. Post your favorite scripture or gospel quote in your status box, leave a link to a great devotional or CES fireside, or post a picture of your favorite temple. Facebook is perfect for everyone, from the shy member missionary who doesn’t know quite where to start, to the one who is eager to share the message with everyone.
With millions of users and growing, Twitter is the on-the-go way to share the gospel. Because each “tweet” can only be 140 characters long, it’s best to leave a short and simple message. Leave a link to mormon.org or tweet a great quote. In fact, Mormon social media-ites got a good laugh recently when hip-hop mogul P. Diddy tweeted a quote by Elder L. Tom Perry. Diddy did his missionary work without even realizing it!
I think it’s pretty safe to say that if you’re a 20- or 30-something married person with a dog and a baby on the way, you or your spouse probably has a blog. If you’re a single female college student, you probably have a blog, too. Whether you use Blogger, Wordpress, or Tumblr, blogs are the new-fangled form of journaling, and they’re the best and most expressive way of sharing the gospel. Missionaries in a few missions are even required to keep a regular blog about their experiences. Blogs allow you to write whatever you’d like. On my own blog I like to occasionally write about my testimony or share quotes from a favorite talk.
Don’t worry, though—if you don’t feel comfortable bearing your testimony, it can be much subtler than that. If you’re blogging about your life, Church-related things are bound to come up, even if just in passing. When they do, you can link to lds.org, mormon.org, specific talks or videos, or anything else LDS related.
Recently the Church revamped its website for investigators, mormon.org. Now, each member of the Church can create a profile--a page where you can share your testimony, how you found the Church, etc. This new campaign allows members to chat with investigators, to answer common questions, and share their testimonies. You can include a photo and your story as well as read the stories of others.
See examples of mormon.org profiles: mormon.org/people.
Get started creating your own: mormon.org/create.
I can just hear the men reading this sighing in collective disgust. I haven’t met many who want to agree with the amazingness of Pinterest. But if you’re female, you get it, right? Pinterest is the newest, and perhaps my favorite, form of social media. While very different from the others mentioned above, it is possible to share the gospel this way. Pinterest is like an online bulletin board that allows you to “pin” pictures, recipes, and quotes you find from other websites. Basically, you can keep everything you find on the internet in one convenient location. Others can see your pinboards and repin them to their own, thus creating a viral effect. I’ve found wonderful gospel-oriented talks and quotes that can easily be shared. Pinterest is a bit more image-related, but because the Church has so many beautiful images of the Savior and temples, you are guaranteed to have people take notice. (You could also, ahem, pin your favorite LDS Living articles!)
So there you have it. From me, a social media nerd, to you, I hand over some of my favorite ways to teach others about the gospel. Now grab your computer and get to work!