Facebook and missions
Because Facebook is worldwide in coverage with many language versions, it provides a range of opportunities for cross-cultural evangelism. There are multiple options for sharing the good news cross-culturally on Facebook. (Please also read our main Facebook page.)
- Facebook is available in a growing range of languages, and is widely used in many countries. However, there are other social networking sites also very popular in some countries. Similar principles apply for their use.
- Missionaries and evangelists will almost certainly need to set up a separate neutral Facebook page that does not carry a range of Christian resources, links, or postings from Christian friends: suggestions.
- It is possible to create ‘Facebook Fan Pages’ or ‘Groups’ too. Do this using your ‘neutral’ profile. Understand the difference in purpose and function of Fan Pages and Groups. Choose very carefully the category you choose for a Fan Page. This, and the chosen name, cannot be edited later.
- A discussion area can be added to Fan Pages.
- There are many ‘Applications’ that extend the capability of Fan Pages and Groups. These include ‘Extended Info’ which helps you to put links in the left-hand page margin (though it can be very difficult to add to Fan Pages), book tabs, and more, as well as the enhanced options that Facebook Markup Language provides.
- Facebook can accommodate just about all non-European fonts, if entered as Unicode characters.
Examples and ideas
- Set up a neutral Facebook profile and request friends within the country or chosen ethnic group. You can find people either by searching Facebook for specific names (where a particular country/ethnic group has relatively unique personal names), or by asking friends of friends in target countries to become your friend.
- One missionary writes, “I prefer Friendster to Facebook because Friendster has an area for forums. It is easier to do web-evangelism there; ie. there is opportunity to interact with the thoughts shared by other forum participants. However, Facebook seems to have a wider following, so I joined it in order to connect with my former schoolmates. I generally encapsulate my posts within one or two sentences or short paragraphs when sharing my faith on these two social networks; if I need to post more, then I write on my blog.”
- Set up a Fan Page or Group. This could focus on an area of secular or cultural interest, or it could be more obviously religious.
Case study 1: a literature outreach to a relatively unreached people group in West Africa does the following:
- Personal profile of mission staffer using her African name, and personal details explaining previous time living in the country in neutral terms. The word missionary is of course not used.
- A Fan page set up from this profile, in the language of the people, points to the availability of the outreach paper, in web and printed form, and posts regular excerpts from the paper within the 420-character limit.
- With the help of volunteers, new friends are found by searching for the unique people-group names, and by asking friends of friends to become her friends. New friends are then invited to join the Fan Page. Updates and news are sent to Fans via the ‘Send an update to fans’.
Case study 2: a literature outreach for Africa and Asia, in easy English and other languages, has a Fan Page.
- The Fan Page is publicized in the printed literature. Readers (Christian or not) with Facebook profiles are encouraged to invite their friends.
- It explains how to read the paper online, or subscribe to it by post.
- Updates are sent to fans via the page.
- Page uses neutral jargon-free language.
Please send ideas and strategies that we can include on this page.
See our Open Letter to Missions about the growing opportunities in digital evangelism that missions can use.