Ever since I read "Women's discipleship and the Mommy Blogosphere" by Hannah Anderson, I've considered the importance of Christ-following women engaging in conversation online. The norm of a news feed for an 18 to 35 year-old woman (and maybe other age groups as well) includes blog post after blog post. The City Moms Blog Network has exploded over the last few years, as have the followings of major 'mom' communities that are pumping out heartfelt content at an amazing rate. I can't go 24 hours on social media without reading or seeing a post about the daily issues that women face.
Women are talking online
Like it or not, the women in our culture are talking...on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The women of our culture are looking for answers to life's disappointments, and many search for guidance through their online community before having a heart to heart with a close friend in person. I've experienced this first hand and have enjoyed this form of community too!
- When I became a 'twin mom', I joined a Facebook group of other women who'd had twins in the same year. It was an incredible resource and forum for discussion about how to handle the unique challenges of two babies at one time. There were several instances where I posted a question and I had some incredibly helpful responses! While I don't engage it as much now that twins are older, I'm thankful that I could get instant help from other twin moms without the time commitment of an in-person support group.
- I can't even count the number of times I've received helpful information from blog posts about everything from breastfeeding to home decorating. Thanks to bloggers, I figured out that I like having a capsule wardrobe, found new strategies for organization and discovered helpful parenting strategies.
Here's the good news:
The conversation is relatively easy to engage in! If you have a smartphone, tablet or computer; you can join in everyday. Evangelism that used to only exist among the people you ran into face-to-face can now take place with people across the globe at any time of day. We have access to the world through the internet, and many women who are flocking to blogs and online communities for answers are desperate to hear some meaningful truth. They want validation, and they want meaning that they are missing in 'real life'.
Here's the bad news:
Relationships online are hard, and can't ever replace a face-to-face relationship. We can only go so deep with someone through a computer screen, and it's easy for people to misunderstand us. So while I think it's wonderful to engage this way, it can't be the only means of evangelism in our lives. Women will always need to sit across from other women and talk in person!
What are some practical ways we can engage women online and share the gospel?
- Make people jealous for the faith. Not by showing a fake 'perfect' life, but by authentically revealing the joy God has given to you in various life circumstances. When other people are complaining, you can chose to rejoice. When other people are oversharing, you can choose to protect your loved ones and be discreet. When other people are making much glorification of sin, you can focus on giving glory to God. Not out of a heart of self-righteousness or pride, but out of a desire to live out authentic faith before others. As people see this over time, it might make some people annoyed - but others might begin to recognize that as a follower of Christ, you live with a different kind of peace, joy and contentment that makes them jealous for Jesus.
- Share gospel-centered content. There are lots of posts for women that come across your daily newsfeed, but when you read something that touches the heart of a woman's struggles and shares the gospel, you should hit share! In a moment of weariness, an unbelieving wife might be willing to read a 'Christian' blog post on marriage, that speaks to her need to trust in Jesus. In a heap of frustration, a mother might click on a post that encourages her to train her children up in the Lord, a concept she'd never considered before. The word of God and the message of the gospel are powerful, so pass it along and get it in front of other women - not obnoxiously, but joyfully!
- Be gracious with your comments. It's likely that you are reading a lot of advice to women and moms that is just completely contrary to scripture. Not long ago, I read (on a mainstream, highly popular mom blog) a mom recommending erotic novels as a great way to spice up the bedroom. She was in essence saying, "if you fantasize about other men, you will be more excited to be with your husband at the end of a long day with kids." When you read things like that, your first instinct might be to rain down the wrath of God, but have discernment and be gracious as you share truth. Some of the meanest blog comments I read are from Christians who are extremely unloving and self-righteous as they present 'the truth'. Out-do others, not in showing tolerance, but in showing genuine love.
- Create relationships and make investments. If you are going to hang around in an online community, take the time to actively engage other women. Respond to comments, be personable and friendly and be ready to give an answer for your faith. Be ready to engage in ongoing conversation and bear with people who don't trust in Christ. Although it's not the same as a face-to-face relationship, the women I've seen really have the most success with online evangelism have taken those relationships from the screen to the coffee shop - making surface relationships REAL relationships.
- Add your voice. It can seem like there is already too much noise out there, so the world doesn't need more bloggers, tweeters, and women sharing their thoughts. Naturally, the feeling that our voice wouldn't matter makes it seem like we should just be silent. But resist the temptation, especially if you think that God might have gifted you with the ability to write or engage others personably online. There are still vastly more blogs and articles filling the listening ears of women with lies instead of gospel hope. The more women that can step up and offer a loving word of truth for the cause of Christ, the better! You can reach your own sphere of influence, which is likely different than mine or another blogger's.
You never know...
Here is a little story from almost a decade ago:
When, by God's grace, I put my faith in Christ for salvation, I was totally stumped about what to do next. At the time, I didn't really have any immediate friends or connections I could turn to. I didn't know how to connect to a new community or a flesh and blood believer, because I was so far down a path of rebellion. The only thing I could think of, was to search through my social media connections and find a person - anyone - who could help. I'm not saying that was the perfect way to go about it, but it's all I knew to do at the time!
That has stuck with me through the years, because that person would have never thought our social media connection would eventually lead to me asking them to bring me to church and help me pray through my salvation. Similarly, you don't know who is watching you or who God will prompt to come your way when the time is right! It might seem like there are no seeds being planted and no gospel work being done through your online presence, but you just don't know how God might be using it powerfully! I've had multiple instances (especially since having this blog) where people who I didn't know were reading, watching or listening have approached me with a desire for help and prayer in a time of spiritual crisis. I can't say I've been some huge part of their lives, but I'm honored to be a small part of their journey. You never know who will come to you as they watch you live out a life of faith!