I’m totally excited to welcome today’s guest poster – Alyssa Clark. We know Alyssa and her family from the time they spent in Henderson, and I have enjoyed still keeping up with their family via social media since they moved away. In fact, Alyssa’s uplifting and positive social media accounts are what prompted me to ask her for a guest post – and about that very subject! 😉 Readers, I know you’ll enjoy this timely post as much as I did. ~Kristen
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. –Philippians 4:8 ESV
The President, your grandma, her neighbor’s cat, and the newlywed couple at church who just got back from their cruise and want to show you 174 pictures of their amazing room all have something in common: they all have social media accounts. We plan parties, sell purses, post videos of gender reveals, and share things we are thinking or doing at that very moment. Social media has become a “norm” in our society, like watching TV or having a pet. You just have a Facebook account. You read the news on Twitter. You’re checking your “hearts” on Instagram. You’ve completed 194 out of 5,873,291 “Pins” on Pinterest. And you don’t have a Snapchat yet, but your cousin bothers you about it every other day. Phrases such as “I’ll message you,” “Have I friended you yet?” and “Yeah, I read that” are so commonplace I doubt we ever notice that it truly sounds odd.
Facebook along with Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, and other social media sites are booming, teeming with people of all ages posting their thoughts – wanting to be heard, seen, and acknowledged. These people are also searching – not just for people they know, but similarities, common ground, and anything to which they feel drawn or can relate. They use these sites like “tools” to establish connections and build relationships within communities. As a searcher, I usually follow people I know, shows I watch, bakeries, and comedy and meme accounts (pausing for judgement here). As a “poster” on social media however, I never dwelled on what I posted as to whether or not its content was beneficial or in some way helpful to my audience. My account(s) said “college, marriage, babies, Christmas vacation” just like everyone else’s. Until recently.
The elders of the congregation where we worship challenged us to be more purposeful in our prayer life and intentional in discipleship. At the beginning of this year, we were given a calendar with a Biblical theme. Each following month would have a different theme. Each day would be noted with a different Bible verse or verses correlating with the theme and a member or frequent visitor over whom we could pray.
Friends, I jumped all over this.
As a Christian, this was a huge opportunity to be able to have a guided, purposeful study and prayer time each day. AND as a mom, this gave me an intentional way to disciple my children in their conversations with God and servitude toward others. Two birds, one stone. I was so completely excited and encouraged by this opportunity that I immediately texted my mom, sister-in-love, and two friends. I had to share this! Then it clicked: I have to share this.
Now let’s get honest for a second. “Goals” and I don’t usually get along. I like a good challenge, but that’s usually only if I know there’s likely to be a good outcome. Also, the word “resolution” makes me cringe and the ultra-human, failure-fearing side of my brain takes over. So when I started my scripture sharing experience I set NO expectations. As in, I thought, “Hey, this is cute. I’ll post this today so I’ll remember the verse I’m supposed to pray.”
On Sunday, January 3, 2016, I dug my prayer calendar out of the bottom of the diaper bag, brushed off a few Star Wars gummy snacks and read the theme for the month: “The Names and Attributes of God.” The verse for the day was Romans 11:33 and the focus was “God is infinite; He cannot be limited.” I read the section of scripture in my Bible app and studied and praised God for his limitlessness (and prayed for Ms. Alexander who was the member listed that day). I still wanted to share what I’d read but, being a visual person, I wanted it to be pretty. Now I realize that God’s word is enough by itself, but if I were going to share it on social media I knew it needed to have a certain look or it might be passed by as another post about weekends or Sunday naps. The YouVersion Bible app actually has a feature that allows you to make or choose a premade visual scripture to share – I decided I felt safer finding a premade one. This verse didn’t have one, so I searched Google images and found one that wasn’t too girly (I wanted it to be able to reach everyone) and posted it publicly for me and the three other people I thought it might reach. By the end of the day, I had 10 “Likes” on Facebook, and 2 “Hearts” on Instagram. Each time someone reacted to my post, I read the scripture for the day and prayed over it again.
I’ve shared scripture on social media before this and, to my knowledge, my audience knows I’m a Christian, so I didn’t think it would look too out of place or be overly bothersome. I didn’t want my friends to feel that I was cramming scripture into their eyeballs, but I did hope others would be interested and possibly look up the scripture and study as well. I made it the first thing I did on my phone each day – not necessarily the first thing I did in the morning, so don’t go checking my time stamps…
I did a visual scripture post the next day, and the next, and the day after that until I had posted the rest of the month of January.
Now here’s where I paused and that word “goal” came creeping up behind me. I’d just posted almost an entire month’s worth of scripture and had been getting some positive feedback from it. What should I do? Keep posting for the rest of the year (yikes!) or just lay off and maybe post one here and there? In addition, what am I saying to my audience? Do they think I’m portraying a false image of perfection and goodness, or are they encouraged and uplifted by the word of God in an eye catching format?
After some serious prayer, I decided this was mainly for focus and my daily study. I liked it. The fonts and pictures were pleasant and it helped me remember my purposefulness. Not to mention I was learning a lot. The theme for February highlighted some of the ministries supported by our congregation. I learned so much about our church family and its servant heart and was able to share services and benevolence opportunities with those in the community who needed it. By March, my posts were getting more attention as people in our congregation caught on to what I was doing. They began commenting that they liked them and were interested in how I made or found the pictures. That made me feel more confident to know that my posts were having a positive impact in my small social media circle.
Without realizing it, posting each day had become a wonderful habit. I couldn’t do anything else on my phone – texts, updates, messages, tweets, or emails – until I had read, prayed, and posted my scripture for the day. And just like that, the tune of my social media pages has changed. It is encouragement, power, love, strength, salt and light. I am using my connection tools for God and not just me. I also filter each post through the T.H.I.N.K. acrostic that everything you post should be:
- True – you know the source(s) of what you’re posting and are, without a doubt, certain the information is accurate
- Helpful – the post will uplift, educate, or benefit the audience in some way
- Inspiring – the post encourages the audience to better themselves or others
- Necessary – does your audience really need to know the contents of what you’re posting?
- Kind – the content of your post is out of love and respect
I firmly believe all scripture meets those criteria. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8 ESV. I’m also a big fan of Philippians 2:14-15 NLT that says to “Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.” Have you ever thought of these verses while you were typing out a status update, posting a photo, or sharing a link? Ouch. Guilty as charged.
While I began sharing the word of God as a way for me to stay focused on my daily study, it has become a way for my audience to experience the beauty of scripture on social media. Posting scripture has become second nature. It no longer feels odd or uncomfortable as it did in the beginning when I felt as if I was standing on a street corner with a megaphone shouting, “The end is near!” In the jumble of seemingly endless negativity and disappointment, I hope just one of my posts can stand out for someone like an L.E.D high beam. Look at this! Hope, love, power, grace, promise! Isn’t it wonderful?! It is mind blowing sometimes to think about who can see my posts. I have private Facebook and Instagram accounts, but make each individual scripture post public on Facebook. Literally anyone who has a Facebook account can see it. Just this month I’ve had two people I don’t know and have not “Friended” share my posts. They were friends of my friends who saw our mutual friend like it and decided it was worth sharing. So not only can my Facebook friends easily see, read, like, and share God’s word, but their friends can… and their friends…
So if you don’t already – or maybe feel like it would be weird – I’d like to encourage you to share God’s word on your own social media accounts sometime. No, your Twitter doesn’t have to become a nun. And don’t think for a second that I won’t post a picture of my plate at Taco Mamacita or the boys in their superhero pajamas because I’m DEFINITELY that person. However, know that if I don’t post my Bible verse for the day, something is wrong and you might drive by the house really slowly and honk. Just every now and then when you’re praying over something specific, experience something amazing, or think, “Wow, could my newsfeed be any fuller of (insert Presidential candidate here)?” Read something good. Share something good. You will most definitely be blessed by it and you might just bless someone else.
Happy posting, friends! =)
Alyssa is from Florence, AL and now lives in Chattanooga, TN. She and her husband, Michael, met at good ol’ FHU and have two sons – Ethan, 4, and Aaron, 1. When she’s not wiping noses or finding Legos in weird places, Alyssa enjoys baking and learning new cake decorating techniques.
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