Rapid technological advances are constantly changing the way we communicate with each other, allowing us to connect faster and more frequently than ever before. We can communicate with someone across the globe as easily as with someone in the next room. Yet the connections we make are often so shallow that we still feel isolated from each other, longing to truly know others and have them know us.
God offers us deep, personal relationships with Him and each other when we connect through Jesus Christ. But how can we follow Christ’s call to make disciples through personal relationships when so much of how we communicate is in impersonal cyberspace? That’s possible when we focus on using technology to build relationships with others in fresh ways that help them grow spiritually.
Here’s how you can use technology to make digital disciples:
- Expect the Holy Spirit to interact with people online as well as in person. Keep in mind that the Holy Spirit is at work wherever you interact with people, even in cyberspace. So pay attention to the Holy Spirit’s promptings when you relate to people online, and believe that God will use the connections you make in virtual communities to draw people to Him just as powerfully as He will use face-to-face connections.
- Be creative when looking for ways to connect with people online. If you post a thoughtful blog, you can motivate the people who read it to discuss faith in thoughtful ways that lead them to fresh insights. If you use a Twitter message to link to a Christian charity you support, you can encourage others to support that same charity’s work to fight injustice. If you include a prayer request for a sick or injured friend on a Facebook status update, you can mobilize many people to pray for that person. Ask God to show you other ways that you can engage people online to grow closer to Him and reach out to others with His love.
- Transform fleeting connections into lasting connections. While it’s easy to make quick and shallow connections with people online, it’s more challenging to develop those connections into meaningful friendships that last. However, if you commit to staying in touch regularly with the people you meet online and discussing issues that matter with love and respect for each other, you can turn fleeting connections into lasting ones.
- If you wouldn’t say it in person, don’t type it online. Keep in mind that it can be more tempting to communicate online in inappropriate ways that it is to do so in person, since you can’t immediately see how other people react to what you say. So ask God to give you the self-control you need to communicate with others in kind, respectful ways, even if they’re being rude to you. Remember that you represent Christ to everyone online who knows that you’re a Christian.
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Whitney Hopler is a full-time freelance writer and editor. You can visit her website at: http://whitneyhopler.naiwe.com/.