The text of my stake priesthood meeting remarks given Jan. 25, 2015.
My assignment was to address a practical subject: sharing the gospel online. Although the subject is a practical one, it has spiritual underpinnings.
- What process do you use to research purchasing decisions?
- Buy a car, a phone, sports equipment or a razor
- Ask family, friends, colleagues; search online
- Word of Mouth > now Word of Mouse
We overwhelmingly trust the recommendations of others. Face-to-face or voice-to-voice recommendations are most credible. We trust friends and even strangers more than advertisers (latest research says we trust only about 15% of advertising).
Research shows people trust regular employees — someone like yourself — more than a company CEO or government spokesperson.
Just like any brand, company or organization, the LDS Church can say and publish what it wants; people will only believe a small percentage of it. That’s why empowering members and friends of the Church to talk on its behalf is so important.
What’s Heavenly Father’s purpose:
“For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).
We’ll all receive immortality — everyone born on earth — thanks to the atonement. But eternal life, salvation or exaltation is something that requires a combination of faith and works. Only after we’ve done all we can do does the grace of Jesus Christ deliver us into the Kingdom of God for eternity.
The purpose for Church missionaries:
“Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end” (Preach My Gospel: 1).
How often do we focus our thoughts and actions on bringing about the eternal life of man — our own salvation and that of those around us? How frequently do we invite others to come unto Christ? This is part of our priesthood opportunity and obligation.
The need for mankind to be saved is the same now as it was thousands of years ago. But we’re getting closer to the end, to the millennium, and with the fullness of the gospel restored on earth, we’re being taught and counseled by Latter-day prophets to hasten the work of salvation.
In describing the creation, the Lord said:
“For I, the Lord God, created all things… spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth” (Moses 3:5).
I believe the things around us — natural and man-made — have spiritual counterparts. Just like our souls are the combination of our spirit and body. All that surrounds us are tools used in this earthly existence to give us experience and help prepare us to return to live with Father in Heaven.
In his remarks given last August at BYU Education Week, Elder Bednar talked about mankind’s recent innovations, and their purpose:
“We are blessed to live, learn, and serve in this most remarkable dispensation. An important aspect of the fullness that is available to us in this special season is a miraculous progression of innovations and inventions that have enabled and accelerated the work of salvation: from trains to telegraphs to radios to automobiles to airplanes to telephones to transistors to televisions to computers to satellite transmissions to the Internet—and to an almost endless list of technologies and tools that bless our lives. All of these advancements are part of the Lord hastening His work in the latter days.”
I believe all of these tools (computers and mobile devices) exist because they can be used to hasten the work. And in some ways, these modern tools are more efficient than this tool (knocking on doors) used when I served as a full-time missionary in the Utah Ogden Mission (’89-’91).
Here are five of today’s popular social media tools:
And here’s what Elder Bednar had to say about these tools:
“Please note that I have identified only five of the presently popular social media channels; many other such channels are being used by tens of millions of people. And new methods of and channels for digital communication are being developed constantly. The Lord is hastening His work, and it is no coincidence that these powerful communication innovations and inventions are occurring in the dispensation of the fullness of times. Social media channels are global tools that can personally and positively impact large numbers of individuals and families. And I believe the time has come for us as disciples of Christ to use these inspired tools appropriately and more effectively to testify of God the Eternal Father, His plan of happiness for His children, and His Son, Jesus Christ, as the Savior of the world; to proclaim the reality of the Restoration of the gospel in the latter days; and to accomplish the Lord’s work.”
Elder Bednar then goes on to present several examples of gospel messages prepared by the Church and its members and shared with the world.
When you arrived this morning, you should have received a handout the stake prepared titled “Sharing the Gospel Online.” It has three sections of information:
- Some specific steps you can take to share the gospel online.
- Considerations for how to approach sharing the gospel.
- About 20 suggestions for the types of things you can do and share.
Trusting your ability to read—and realizing the odds that more than 90% of you have already read it—I’m going to spend the next few minutes showing you a few websites and examples.
Websites and Examples
LDS.org – Sharing via Social Media
This is the Church’s page for sharing the gospel via social media. There are many resources for finding and following the Church’s social media channels and content.
LDS.org – Media Library
This is the Church’s online media library, which is free and available for personal, non-commercial use. This is where you can find images and graphics to share online.
LDS.org – Media Library – Social
This page of the media library includes links to all the Church’s social media sites and provides additional suggestions for sharing the gospel online.
Here’s Mormon.org and located at the top right, is where you access or create your Mormon.org profile (using your lds.org credentials).
Here’s my Mormon.org profile, which I link to from my blog.
Here’s my personal blog (if you’re reading this here, you’re already on my blog), where I share my own experiences, including gospel experiences. I also post my high council talks here, and contrary to the wishes of some of my brethren in the high council, I publish my talks after I’ve given them in sacrament meeting.
This is the stake news site. Right now you can view the 2015 priesthood and Relief Society lesson schedule. There’s also a video of Olympian and fellow Latter-day Saint, Noelle Pikus-Pace, speaking at this month’s stake women’s conference. And an electronic PDF of the sharing the gospel online handout is also available there.
The stake Facebook page where you can like and comment on what’s posted, or share your own posts.
The stake Google+ page. Google+ and Facebook work in a very similar fashion, only Google+ content receives favorable placement in Google search. You can check-in at physical places on both Facebook and Google+.
The Church Pinterest account.
My Instagram — with photos from our trip to the Ogden Temple open house and some SOTW photos.
Modern Mormon Men blog. I was a contributing writer for them for about three years.
Elder Andersen, last April, said:
“Let’s make sharing our faith online more a part of our daily life” (May 2013 Ensign).
“…how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of those that [publish] peace” (Mosiah 15:16).
“And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!” (Doctrine and Covenants 18:15-16).
If we proactively share our gospel centered lives online, people will be exposed to and see for themselves what it really means to be Mormon. They’ll see it from regular people—someone like themselves—which is far more likely to be trusted than coming from the Church itself.
We’re preaching the gospel by example. That’s the very best way. And we’re doing what Elder Bednar and other Church leaders have asked: to flood the earth with gospel messages and hasten the Lord’s work today.
If not us, brethren, then who. And if not now, then when?
The slides from my remarks are available for download here.