You. Yes, you. I’m talking to you.
We need to get a few things clear here. First off, I’m a Christian. And not one of those people who just says they’re a Christian when they mean “I went to Sunday School when I was a kid and I’m not Jewish or Atheist or anything else culturally outsider-y.” I mean I’m the kind of person who has a deep and moving spiritual life.
But I like to be one of those who uses words to preach the gospel only when necessary. Granted I’m not always a great walking testimony for the God Who Is There, but I am working on it.
Here’s the thing, though. Those status updates. The ones you think are a “really awesome witness to all my Facebook Fans”. They’re not. Let’s take a look, shall we?
- Repost if you love Jesus
Those really long paragraphs about how you love Jesus and most people won’t re-post that because they are ashamed of loving Jesus but you did because you are this generation’s Corrie Ten Boom. They don’t really tell people that you love Jesus as much as they tell people you are a bully about Jesus.
- Random quotes of a theological nature with no exposition
Yes, I know that C.S. Lewis and Dietrich Bonhoeffer and G.K. Chesterton have said some really pithy things. But THEY said them. Not you. Being able to copy and paste what they said does not automatically confer their wisdom upon you. It does, however, make you look kind of pretentious. It also makes you look so desperate to be on people’s newsfeed that if you can’t think of something original to say you’ll go to the Jesus Fortune Cookie well.
- Stay away from these words
There are things which sound genuine. Like you really have something to say. But in Christianity there are also certain things that sound just the opposite. They sound like you’re TRYING to sound genuine. But they come off to your FB audience like you are the Thomas Kinkade of Status Updates. All flowery and gloppy. So if you feel the impulse to say “touched my heart/soul”, “Stirred me”, “Moving”,”spoke to me”; “My Faith” then either think of an HONEST way to express yourself or save it for a blog or a Bible study.
- Remember your audience
Facebook may have replaced the blog as the go-to place for friends to see what their friends are up to. But there’s a reason that most status updates are short and to the point. People are on FB to see what’s up with you in two sentences or less. Or they want you to send them a rare chicken for their farm. Either way, they aren’t there for you to preach at them. If you MUST preach (like I’m doing here), then write a blog entry and link to it. If folks are interested in your preaching they can click through and read your deeper thoughts. If they aren’t they can move down the list to get their chicken.
- Not everyone works in the same place as you
If you draw a salary or wage directly from a faith-based organisation, great. God’s plan for your life was to take that path and it seems to be working for you. But those of us who get our money from secular sources are NOT less in touch with God. They just are following God’s plan for THEIR lives. So when your status updates include things like “I’m so glad my job allows me to bless people” it really comes off like you think that YOU are Jesus. And that’s a turn off to everyone.
Facebook is a new form of town square and it helps to think of it that way. It’s where many of us are intersecting with the greatest number of people, now that we aren’t going down to the market to haggle. So if you aren’t sure how your Status Update is affecting your testimony, just try to imagine how it would come off if you were saying it to a friend over coffee or standing on the street corner with it written on a sign. If you think your friend or the passing traffic might cringe, chances are your FB audience is cringing too.
Yeah, I get that maybe I’m contradicting myself a little bit. After all, I am posting this link to Facebook. (Thank you, WordPress, for the autopublicise feature.)