Social Media: It gives millions of people a platform to voice their opinions, interests and their expertise. (Photo By: Nicole Williams)
It has become the platform for news from around the world, entertainment fizz, activism and faith and spirituality. Yes, religion has blossomed on social media over the years.
From inspirational faith Twitters to activists on religious Facebook pages and Instagrams, many are getting their daily dosage of religion by simply scrolling down their social network timelines.
But is this phenomenon effective? Some religious social media users around the world say yes, while others like 22-year-old Chellese Hall from Jackson, MS, say it creates another problem for those who have religious values.
Hall says people will post ‘inspirational quotes and #SundaySelfies at church with completely opposite messages the next day. Oh, our generation.’
“God calls us to follow Him and walk in love. When we go outside of those boundaries (bashing, negative posts, profanity, re-posting videos), it immediately contradicts the love we claim,” Hall says.
Although Hall says seeing the contradictory behavior is more open on social media, she and others like 20-year-old, Dyniesha Saunders from Edmonton, Alberta, agree that it is important to have these messages on social media timelines.
“The more technology advances, the more pervasive media becomes in our every day lives. We are being exposed to more and more information through TV shows, news, advertisements, movies and music and they communicate to us using these things through the media of the internet as well as social media,” Saunders said.
“If people see enough people worshipping God and making it cool to praise Him, they will want to.”
Churches and religious institutions understand the power of social media, which is why many avid social media users are finding their very own churches running Twitter accounts and Facebook pages and even having their own apps.
Real Life Church in Santa Clarita, CA has their own app and actually encourages churchgoers to follow along the service using the app. The message will appear on the app as well as Bible verses to refer to and even gives users an option to take message notes.
In fact, a popular Bible app called “YouVersion” has over 146 million downloads and growing. It gives users access to 924 various versions of the Bible and supports 628 different languages. The app is also known for holding assorted devotionals and Bible plans for all ages. It also gives users the ability to share verses with their social networks.
The app’s website reads, “God is near, and so is His Word. As you wake up. While you wait. When you meet a friend. Before you go to sleep. When the Bible is always with you, it becomes a part of your daily life.”
Bishop T.D. Jakes is a popular religious influencer on Twitter with 1.53 million followers. His most recent tweet read, “When God fills you, He’ll fill everything around you until there is nothing lacking in your life and you are completely made whole.”
Jakes will post his sermon video links to his Twitter page and his messages often generate hundreds of retweets, which means it is likely that someone who is not religious is reading the very same message down their social network timeline.
It is not known whether older church institutions will fully follow suit in a world heavily influenced by social media like more modern churches have, but one conclusion is reached by simply viewing the growing popularity of religion in social media: the more platforms a church is involved in, the larger reach it has.