Anyone Can Evangelize Online
So why don't more Catholics evangelize? That's easy - fear. Most of us are afraid of rejection or we fear being asked a question for which we lack a good answer. But now we can learn to evangelize online with little or no intimidation. In one way, evangelization has never been easier. The internet is the perfect place to gain courage for one's convictions.
So, what good news motivates you? Let's recall that the word "evangelization" simply means "sharing really good news". Good news makes us grateful. Think about it. When we come across a great doctor, a good book, a thrilling movie or delicious food, we are happy to share our good fortune with others. And many already do so through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram. It is the same with evangelization. Has God ever done anything for you? How do you cope with difficulty? What gives you hope or brings you joy? When were you most grateful for the guidance of the Spirit in your life? Were you ever glad to be Catholic? If you can answer any of these questions, you are ready to share your own version of the Good News online.
Evangelization is not about self promotion or bragging about one's church. Evangelization is not about convincing anyone of anything. It is simply sharing the cause for our gratitude. As Jesus said, anyone who has ears will hear it. There is no manipulation or ulterior motive, because evangelization is about God and it gives all credit to God. That is why it does not seem proud or arrogant. Whenever we share a blessing or a reason for hope we are pointing to the presence of God.
Social media connects people, but evangelizers use it point to God and to invite a response. Anyone can reply to the typical invitations: like, comment, reply, subscribe or share the things that seem good news to us. We do it all the time through our own Facebook, Flickr, Vine or Twitter. And while every message does not require a call to action, evangelizers can leave a thoughtful question, invite a discussion, offer a prayer or share a simple admission of human frailty. Self-deprecation always implies: I am incomplete. I need God. How about you?
Catholic Charities works wonders each and every day, but it goes unnoticed. This is understandably due to a commitment to confidentiality. But parishes bring the Gospel message of hope to others all the time too. And parishes are not bound by confidentiality. Wouldn't we grow in confidence if we heard about this good news more often? What if beneficiaries at Catholic Charities could post selfies of themselves doing things that would not have been possible without the help that they received at Catholic Charities? It would be inspiring! What about you or your parish? What is holding you back?
- Have you ever seen something and said - "Thank you, God?" Why not take a selfie in that scene and caption it with "I felt God's touch when..." You can go on Youtube and view regular folks express their gratitude in "Cardboard Testimonies" in churches around the country. St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Tonawanda does it each year. Why not you?
- Why not host a fun event or a Selfie Olympics of Service where people post selfies displaying the parish in action and having fun in the process with a fun caption like "Got Jesus? We do."
- Why not organize a Selfie Campaign entitled "Why Our Youth Rock" that display compassionate young people in action? The possibilities are endless. Our teens at Our Lady of Hope Church are truly fabulous. Check out how creative young people can be with this strategy at: wired.com/2014/01/the-10-best-photos-from-the-selfie-olympics
- Visit ChurchTechToday.com or read the article "Your Social Media Strategy: 10 Questions to Answer" at Outreach.com.
Pope Francis insists that, if anything, Catholics are too modest about our life in Christ! And who says that we have to be anonymous about our affection for our Church just because we are the biggest. Neither do we have to be explicit in every image or paragraph of text. It is evangelizing whenever what we offer online, we first offer God in prayer. As St. Paul insists, if it delights God, share it with boldness! (Rom. 10:15) While it is the Holy Spirit who converts, we are all partners in evangelization!
For more ideas on how to use social media for evangelization contact the Office for Parish Life, 716-847-8393.
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For more evangelization programs and strategies contact:
Office of Parish Life
795 Main Street
Buffalo, NY 14203