For many of us, social media has become a tool, hobby, or distraction. As social media platforms have developed and expanded, they have opened the conversation regrading the benefits and repercussions of internet dialogue. As public theologians or public figures, we need to proceed with caution when sharing posts, memes, gifs, and pictures. It’s been said many times before, in various ways: the things we post online should be considered permanently available in some form on the internet. This can be a frightening realization if we have neglected to think carefully about the impact of our online actions. That’s not to say we can only post professional material online; rather, let’s consider being more authentic and simultaneously considering the potential outcomes.
Through our authenticity and willingness to carefully share our insights online, we are often able to engage friends, family, and even wider audiences in ways that may not happen otherwise. The access to communication has blossomed, and we have this tool at our fingertips. When we are looking to connect with the youth in our ministry programs, it can be a struggle to know how best to stay in touch. We could use social media apps such as Instagram and TikTok to share and connect with youth from our ministry settings. These platforms are currently used more frequently by younger generations, including some of our youth. We can create posts that broadcast upcoming activities, blessings for specific days, congratulations, scripture passages, and much more. These posts and opportunities will aid in building deeper relationships with our youth who are on these platforms.
Since communication is key to building and strengthening relationships, social media can be a great starting place. The best way to build online relationships is by engaging your audience through your posts and openly sharing your authentic self with the community. As with other forms of communication, however, online contact needs to be kept where others can see it; avoid direct messaging. Holding these boundaries can be challenging, but being upfront and communicative about your views on engagement can truly help keep everyone safe.
The internet provides us with an array of information, entertainment, and opportunities to connect with each other from a distance. We can play games online in our ministry, as well as update everyone about future events. We can use social media as a tool to express God’s love for all people if we are considerate of our engagement style. There’s no need to be a professional at social media to begin connecting with your youth. Instead, be authentic and thoughtful, and have fun sharing your ministry with a wider audience. Social media is likely here to stay, so now it’s our turn to make it work for us.