We are currently living through the greatest communication shift we’ve seen in the last 500 years with social media communication at its helm. The best time to utilize the tools available to us, to share the gospel in winsome ways, was a decade ago.
The next best time is now.
After a few years of posting and gaining about 200,000 followers across different platforms, here are five proven principles and practices I’ve found to be effective in making your way as a digital missionary:
1. Find Your “Why”
Why do you want to start posting on social media?
If your answer is to “share the three angels’ message” or “preach the gospel,” though they are reasonable goals, they are too vague. The more specific you are with your intentions, the more you will be able to create effectively, especially in the face of potential inconveniences and setbacks.
A strong “why” statement will solve an existing problem. Identify a problem that needs to be solved and frame your “why” as the answer to that problem.
Problem: Lack of faith-based bakers.
Solution: Start a baking Instagram account from an Adventist perspective.
According to business consultant Simon Sinek, your “why” has to be simple, clear, and actionable.1
Prayerfully brainstorm why you want to be on social media and fill in this rubric: “I want to ________ so that_________.”
“I want to help chai lovers make authentic, homemade decaffeinated chai so they can use it as a meaningful practice in their lives.”
“I want to make videos about the adult Sabbath School lesson so other Adventists can gain a better understanding of the lesson for that week.”
2. Know Your “Who”
Whom are you trying to help?
After identifying your “why,” the next step is to identify a specific audience that will benefit from your content. A common misconception is that you are going to reach everyone because you’re preaching the “truth.” But their reception of the truth depends on their perception of your truth.
If, for instance, you want to reach a group that is resistant to Christianity, then simply sharing Bible verses or a sermon may not prove to be effective. Most viewers might instantly tune you out. Instead, spend time researching specific needs of a particular group of people; spend time talking with them instead of talking about them; identify if there’s an alignment between their pain points and your passions. By specifically addressing those needs through your content, without any strings attached, you will build trust with your audience.
If I gave you one hour to do a TED talk, without notes and prior prep, what topics would you speak on?
From that list, begin creating consistent content around two or three of those topics during the next five to six months without expecting anything in return. Your tribe will eventually find you.
3. Determine Your “When”
When are you going to post? When are you going to be working on your post?
Time-blocking specific hours in your week is crucial if you want to create consistently. Even if you have zero followers, posting on the same day and time will build a strong routine for content creation that will sustain your ministry, especially when you feel tired or worn out.
Consistency creates predictability. Predictability grows credibility. Credibility encourages consistency. This is a powerful cycle that will level out your content over time.
Pull out your calendar. Allot 30 minutes to one hour of preparation time pre-upload (for research, writing, creating, etc.). You should also set aside 30 minutes of time post-upload (posting, responding to comments, answering questions) per post.
With that in mind, determine how many posts you can create per week, and schedule the exact time needed to get them out.
4. Experiment With Your “What”
What are you going to post?
If you’re at the beginning stages of creating content online, you may not know what to start sharing. The best course of action at this point is to begin where you are and not where you want to be.
What are the things you’re passionate about? What are topics that other people ask your advice on? If you don’t know your ideal audience yet, simply start creating content around these topics two or three times per week for six months.
Once you get into a groove of creating, assess the feedback from your audience and experiment with other types of content, as long as they relate to your “why.” Trying out different ways to share your message will unlock more opportunities for connection and online success.
Identify two to three different ways of saying the same thing.
Topic: Oat milk for Instagram
#1: Make a short 1-minute Instagram video about the benefits of oat milk.
#2: Create a story series of you talking about why oat milk is more healthful than 2 percent cow’s milk.
#3: Create a 30-second Instagram Reel on using oat milk for a decaffeinated chai recipe.
Pay attention to which posts get the most feedback, and double down on those types of content for the time being.
5. Improve Your “How”
How are you improving your content?
If you want to be successful on social media, you need to commit to being intentional. Creating missionally means not only to think intentionally about what you say but also how you’re saying it.
The famous management principle still rings true: What gets measured, gets improved. Things such as engagement, watch-time, shares, and views are important platform-specific metrics that can help elevate your content so that it continues to reach a wider audience.
Your excellence on social media can be a powerful witness in a secular, digital age. Those who benefit from your content may not always agree with your theology, but they will stick around for your intentionality. When they see the thoughtfulness and care with which you’re communicating truth, they’ll be willing to entertain what you say and notice how you live.
To put it in another way: your excellence is evangelism.
After your first 10 posts, schedule 30 minutes to ask yourself these questions:
“What piece of content drew the most engagement? Why?”
“What tiny change can you make to improve your next post?”
Incorporate new changes. Rinse. Repeat.
Every follower of Christ has a ministry. The apostle Paul calls this the “ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18, NIV)2: it’s the calling of every Adventist Christian to do all things with the ultimate intention of reducing the gaps between others and God through their Christ-infused, Spirit-driven lives.
In our digital age these gaps are most evident in online spaces. The chasms between “us” and “them” seem too wide to bridge.
But I believe that with a willing heart, an other-centered mindset, and a commitment to learn and improve, you can be a digital missionary—an agent of God’s love in a world that desperately needs it.
Adopt a posture where there is no longer an “us” versus “them,” but an “us” for “them.”
Kevin Wilson is a youth and young adult pastor at the Oceanside Seventh-day Adventist Church in Southern California. You can follow him on all platforms—Tik Tok, Instagram, and YouTube—using @crossculturechristian.