Many of my goals for 2014 (other than the major one of returning to Australia) have to do with my use of Social Media. Near the top of the list I’ve written in big words, “Stop Being a Facebook Stalker.” The term Facebook Stalker may seem frightening to some of you but it’s actually quite common since it refers to someone who enjoys reading the posts of friends on sites like Facebook or Twitter, but never actually becomes a part of the conversation.
Actually Facebook Stalker is one of the fastest growing personality types online, and for good reason. We live in an incredibly busy world were individuals are sharing countless facts about their lives every day. It would be impossible to type a comment (or even click the like button) for everything our friends share, and even then it wouldn’t be a well thought out response.
But this doesn’t change the fact that Christians can’t be Facebook Stalkers
The thing is in the midst of those status updates we will find someone who is genuinely crying out for help. They may phrase their need in the form of a joke like I usually do, but as Christians it’s still our responsibility to minister to that need with the Gospel. The problem is we aren’t able to do this while Facebook Stalking.
One Stalking variation involves responding to a persons post in the fastest way possible. Yes, taking a few moments to respond with an encouraging message like “We know that all things work together for Good to them that love God” or “bless our heart” if you’re in the South will help the person feel better. But in most cases that only deals with the surface need (encouragement) and ignores the deeper need (refocusing their eyes on God, giving the person an opportunity to release their frustration, share our own experiences with them).
I’m aware that life is incredibly busy (especially for those of you with children) but I can’t help but think God gave us the gift of Social Media so we could minister to others in their time of need.
That thought reminds me of a day in Australia when after the Lord closed a door of ministry I shared my frustration and discouragement about it on Facebook. Within half an hour friends had not only commented on the post, but were chatting with me online and sharing Bible Verses that helped them when they were struggling with setbacks.
In my mind that’s the Vision God would have for Social Media, Christian’s going past the half-minute response (please bear in mind I don’t even do that much!) and having a conversation online about how those struggles can point them to Christ.
Of course we don’t have time to chat with everyone who expresses a need online, but there are ways when even that thirty-second response can minister to their deeper need.
1. Be transparent and share how God helped you through a situation like the one they are facing (You may want to send this as a private message, but keep in mind they may be seen in the News Feed as well)
2. Try to meet up with them at a later time. A face-to-face conversation is the greatest thing you could give to that person because it allows them to share openly their fears and concerns. It’s also possible to do this using Skype of FaceTime if you have a few moments to talk
3. Word a genuine prayer that you have already prayed to God on their behalf and put it in the comments section.
4. Sometimes the simple phrase “how can I help?” will do a world of good
5. Share Scripture that can be encouraging to them in that time…try to be careful about using the Bible as an aspirin in this situation however (don’t worry all things work together for good to those that love God)
Social Media is used for many things; a place to share opinions,a stage on which we promote the person we want people to see us as, an entourage that hangs onto our every word, or an online diary were we can write when angry. In the end however the world of Social Media in my opinion is about finding, and meeting the needs of others (Believer or Unbeliever) with the Gospel of Christ