I could be very mistaken, but I suspect that the majority of readers here and at other Catholic blogs are somewhat in the choir. If I were to do a survey, then I would bet that our audience here is somewhat like the audience of the active members in parishes. We enjoy our Catholic faith, work on our personal relationship with Jesus, and seek God’s friendship. Many of us here are probably friends on Facebook with our pastor or other ordained and religious.
How do we take it to the next level? How do we take it to the streets of Facebook? How do we bring the Gospel to the corner of Facebook and Twitter? How can evangelizing Catholics be the salt of the earth and add flavor to a mediocre culture online?
Online evangelization is not just about reposting the latest Pope tweet or interview with a famous Catholic actor. These can be very good to repost, but it is not the only methods. Here a few ways to evangelize in our relationships.
- Praise a friend. If a friend has recently achieved a life goal like running a marathon, hiking a mountain, re-learning how to walk, etc. then let them know you are happy for them. A short comment shows you care for the other person’s happiness.
- Offer condolences. Sometimes a friend has lost a loved one. The loss could be a death in the family, a relationship split, or family troubles. Sharing in the suffering of others is compassion.
- No name calling. Social media makes it easy to say something that we would never say to another person’s face. Our mother’s taught us not to call some else names and it applies on social media too.
- Avoid anger. There are many people on social media and differences will always pop up. These differences may include ideas on politics, economics, family issues, raising children, food production, vaccines, morality, and even religion. Coming across as angry, bitter, or condescending does not further our evangelical efforts. Remember a sweet gift of the Holy Spirit is peace and it attracts more than vinegar.
- Here is an easy one: Always “Like” pictures of family and babies.
- Related to #5: If you do not have an issue with posting pictures of yourself or your children, then share your life with your friends. People love pictures, especially joy-filled ones. In the olden days, like pre-1994, sharing pictures was a common way to show friends what you have been up to or where you have been.
- Find common ground. You probably have plenty of friends or followers that do not share you faith and morals. In order to even start the dialogue, it is important to first find common ground. They may hold true all but one thing you think is wrong. Start at that point and enter into relationship. If it worked for St. Paul, then is probably good for us to consider.
- Do not be a fanatic. Fanaticism turns people off and looks very irrational.
- Be radical but be natural. Our Faith comes naturally because grace builds on nature. Supernatural life would not mean that much to human persons if we did not understand the natural part.
- Generalize rather personalize. One of my favorite political philosophers recommended not calling people out by name in public. It creates instant friction.
- Do not gossip. It is bad in life and it is horrible in virtual life.
- Never degrade your wife or husband. This does not mean “pretend everything is roses all the time” or that you must agree with everything a spouse does. The way I try to look at it is the way I was taught about speaking of priests. As laity, we should not speak ill of priests. In a similar way, as married men and women, we should not air out spousal dirty laundry.
- Social media is social. I know it gets the heart pounding to be in an online argument about whatever morals are being trampled on, but losing a friend over a post closes the door on future evangelization.
- Be honest. Facebook is not a confessional but coming off as holier-than-thou is also not the best evangelical method. Being real shows common humanity with others with similar struggles be it a messy home frustration or similar glories like doing well on an exam.
- Don’t be so serious. One joyful post is better than 100 serious posts. Consider these differences in posting:
“I love that our Church offers days to celebrate incredible feasts like the Immaculate Conception.” vs. “If you are Catholic, it is a mortal sin to miss Mass on December 8th.”
“Confession brings so much peace to my soul.” vs. “You should go to confession every month.”
Are there other Facebook evangelizing tips that come to mind?