REYNOLDS: Evangelization - Sharing the Gospel on social media

November 26, 2019

Lately, especially among youth and adults, it has become a trend, or even desire of the heart to “fast” or abstain from social media.

You may read: “Be back whenever I am ready” or “I don’t feel present enough in my life, so I’m taking a break.” I, too, have recognized this desire to “fast” from social media. The question would be, why? Far too frequently, it appears our life revolves around social media.

More often, we understand that, ultimately, social media will not fulfill us. It will not heal our yearning for desires of love, relationships and community — all of which God created us for.

Since social media has become such a big part of our lives, it has caused us to look to it for our worth, how we see the world, and what we believe in, instead of looking inside ourselves to decide what we believe.

The article “Resource not risk: Pope Francis reflects on using social media for good” written by Cindy Wooden of Catholic News Service states, “The pope states social web identity is too often based on opposition to the other, the person outside the group: We define ourselves starting with what divides us rather than with what unites us, giving rise to suspicion and to the venting of every kind of prejudice — ethnic, sexual, religious and other.”

This division leaves people feeling lonely, and the desire to “fast” from social media could be a fruitful action.
In some ways, social media cannot be good, but in other ways, it can be very good. For example, there are Catholic Instagram accounts that share the faith, community and ways to walk more closely with Christ. I know many people, myself included, who look to Catholic-based sites to help grow in understanding of the faith and virtue.

Because there are accounts like this, I know we should not completely give up on social media.

How can we, as Catholics, use social media for good? As Catholics, we know true evangelization is shown in love, mercy and community. Stated in the same article, Pope Francis shares, “Using social networks to form and promote community implies encouraging interaction, support and solidarity.”

A synonym of solidarity is harmony and unity. How can we promote harmony, unity and a more positive environment on our social media accounts?

If we look to social media for community and something to believe in, then as Catholics, we need to share the love and mercy of God on social media. Considering social media is a part of our lives, we have a great method for evangelization.

We are called to be disciples in every aspect of our lives. Being a disciple may look a bit different today in a social media world, but if we are called to bring the love of Christ to the world, then we should do so on Instagram, Twitter, or wherever we find our digital footprint. If we do this, we give others the ability to find Christ in the social media world.

Surrendering to God in a digital world ultimately means we remember that only Christ can truly satisfy our deepest longings and desires. His will for our lives far exceeds what we can imagine, even what we see on social media. His will for us is to love. The more we seek out this truth, the more we will yearn for true community and intentional relationships.

On the USCCB webpage for evangelization it asks the question “What is evangelization?” and then provides an answer from the document Go and Make Disciples: A National Plan and Strategy for Catholic Evangelization in the United States.

It states, “There is no true evangelization if the name, the teaching, the life, the promises, the Kingdom and the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God are not proclaimed. This means that we must let our faith shine on the world around us, radiating the love of Jesus by every way we speak, think and act.”

As Advent approaches, this is the perfect time to prepare for the birth of Christ and His second coming by reflecting on the many ways we can surrender to Christ and continue to bring His love into the world, even in avenues such as social media. †

Allison Reynolds, MA, is a theology teacher for fourth and fifth grade at St. Cecilia Catholic School.

Teen Talk

What advice would you give other teens on how to evangelize in the digital world?

“Before you post something, think about if you see God in that post. If you don’t, then ask God and tell Him to guide your post to the right direction.”
— Soledad F., 10th Grade - St. Matthew Catholic Church

“Honestly, in the digital world many things are open to us like social media, such as Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. The advice I would give to teen would be to only say things that would lift up one another and nothing that would bring the other person down.”
— Fredrick F., 11th Grade - St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church

“To spread the word of God by posting Scripture passages and spiritual messages that lift their peers up. Look for mini sayings about God and your faith and put them on social media.”
— Ellie A., 9th Grade - St. Helen Catholic Church

“Speak out against topics that go against the faith. Defend your faith! Be Catholic even on social media.”
— Franklin N., 10th Grade - St. Albert of Trapani Catholic Church

“The digital world gives teens many advantages — connecting with friends and family, discovering new places, etc. However, the digital world exposes teens to a new form of hatred humans have never seen before that encourages self-hate and bullying. The digital world only shows the side of a person that they choose to show. Remember that there is a real person behind every click, post and like.”
— Chloe A., 11th Grade - St. Agnes Academy