If you’ve spent time on any social media platform during the past month, you’ve probably found yourself begging, “Lord, please come soon.” Regardless of your stance on any variety of hotly debated topics, I think we can all agree that the example of Christians on social media is far from a perfect reflection of the attitude and humility of Jesus.
The world of social media is obviously shaping the worldviews of young adults today. So, if you are anything like me, you’ve probably also thought, “Oh no, all these young adults who already think the Christian world is filled with a bunch of hypocrites are watching and noticing!” I’m really happy you are reading this, because the main thing that has kept me sane while scrolling through my news feeds throughout the past few weeks is YOU. Knowing that you are actively involved in the lives of young adults (and not just present in their news feeds) brings me great hope.
In the midst of what can sometimes seem like an all-out war on social media, young adults need your presence and example to help temper what they experience online. So, here are a few thoughts on how you can help in the current state of craziness found on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and beyond.
- Make sure young adults know your posture toward people outside of social media. It’s important that those you minister to experience you giving them a hug or high-five and thanking them after they have served in the church nursery or stepped up to lead a service project. It’s important that they know what it is like to sit across the table with you over a cup of coffee to discuss a hard, biblical truth that they are wrestling with. When these kinds of interactions are happening, it gives them a better filter to view either what you post on social media or what they see others posting.
- Model well the use of social media for young adults. We know they are watching, and we know they are online. Think before you post. Is the comment you really want to make going to edify others? Is the point you feel compelled to make going to advance the gospel or hinder it? The ways in which you interact with others will be noticed by the young adults you serve and will be a guide for them to follow.
- Honor up, down, and all around! This is a leadership value at the church where I’m a member, and I think it is a great motto to follow for our use of social media. If our default mode is to intentionally seek to honor and encourage others through social media, we could have a huge, positive, and collective impact on how the young adults in our ministries—as well as the rest of the watching world—view the church. I encourage you to intentionally seek ways to individually call out and encourage the young adults in your ministry on social media.
- You can’t control what others choose to do on social media, but your personal investment in the life of a young adult can speak louder than what they see afar from others. I alluded earlier to that sinking feeling we’ve all experienced when seeing posts from other Christians knowing that the young adults in our ministries are reading them. Let your physical presence in their lives be a louder voice for what it means to follow Jesus than only what they see from others on social media.
It seems like I say this with every post I write to young adult ministry leaders, but once again I find myself saying, “Your investment in the lives of young adults matters.” Especially in this area of navigating social media, they need your help. Keep pointing others to Jesus in the midst of the noisy world of social media.
Bill Noe is the Collegiate Ministry Specialist at Lifeway Christian Resources. A former campus minister (and current collegiate ministry volunteer at church), Bill loves being a part of seeing college students grow in their walk with the Lord. Connect with Bill on Twitter.