Digital Witnessing

Whether we like it or not, we witness everywhere we go—including the digital world. Many social scientists recognize that there is no “virtual reality,” for both digital and “real” life have become intertwined. The Internet is not merely a tool; it is a place, and since Jesus tells us to “go into all the world” (Matt. 28:19), we have a responsibility to represent Him wherever we go. Thankfully, some basic evangelistic practices stay the same whether online or not.

A good word to remember is “netiquette.” This refers to our good manners in a digital context. For example, posting in all caps on someone’s social media page is bad netiquette, as it makes it sound like you’re yelling. Another rule of netiquette is not to be a “troll” (baiting people into fights or taking over conversations you haven’t been invited into), as fun as it may be. Paul’s counsel still applies: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23, ESV). “Gentleness” may be the trait digital witnesses are most likely to lack.

An old saying goes, “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” This means that getting angrier, posting more furiously, or using all caps to bludgeon someone into believing as you do will backfire. A better way is to ask thoughtful questions, complimenting what you can, and praising people for remaining respectful in discussions. Another good tactic is private messaging someone versus engaging them publicly. This avoids making the witnessing experience an exhibition that runs the risk of making someone look dumb.

Above all, whatever the context, our witness must be born out of love for Christ and the other person. That means that, at times, we need to be willing to walk away from the conversation and let people make their own choices.