Maximizing Social Media for the Gospel
Good Questions Have Small Groups Talking


Email your group and challenge them to memorize this classic verse: “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”  Matthew 5:16 (NIV2011)

You might also ask them to do a little research on “Facebook and evangelism,” and “social media and evangelism.”

Matthew 5.13 - 16


Let’s each share your name and how often you get on Facebook.


1.       Matthew 5.13 – 16. Should you do your good works publically, in order to be seen?

The light, too, is a most evocative image. A light is often a warning; think of a lighthouse. It is often an attraction; think of a lighted window looming out of the fog when you are lost. A light is often a guide; think of a torch or a flare path. Above all, a light is visible. You don’t hide a lamp under an inverted bowl; you put it on a stand. There is no excuse for secret discipleship. ‘A city on a hill cannot be hidden’ (5:14). And all this is possible only because Christ is the light of the world. Until he has illuminated us we can never shine with his reflected light. The imperative of shining is based on the indicative of being lit up by him. Then people will see our good deeds and praise not us but our heavenly Father, who is the source of the light they see reflected. — Michael Green, The Message of Matthew: The Kingdom of Heaven, The Bible Speaks Today (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 91–92.

2.       What does it mean that we are the salt of the earth? What does salt do that we should do?

Salt promotes thirst, and as the salt of the earth, we should be making those around us thirsty for the living water of Jesus Christ. People should say, “There’s something about you that creates in me a thirst for what you’re enjoying.”

Salt also preserves and heals. Therefore, if our culture is putrefying and decaying, we then, as the church, should hold back from indicting our society or critiquing our political leaders and begin preserving by repenting. “Lord, have we lost our saltiness? Have we lost our flavor and our effectiveness?”

Second Chronicles 7:14 declares, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” It begins with us, gang. We are the salt. — Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2003), 27.

3.       What exactly is “saltiness” (NIV). Or, as the old KJV had it, “savour”?

God’s people in any age and under any condition are both salt and light in the world. The Scots translate “savour” by the more expressive word tang. I like their word much better. “If the salt has lost its tang.” The problem today is that most church members have not only lost their tang as salt, but as pepper they have lost their pep also. We have very few salt and pepper Christians in our day. Now salt doesn’t keep fermentation and that type of thing from taking place, but it will arrest it. You and I ought to be the salt in the earth and have an influence for good in the world.

Christians are also the light of the world. Certainly in the kingdom the believers are going to be the light of the world. This is a tremendous principle for us. We need to be a light in our neighborhood and wherever we go. We have no light within ourselves, but the Word of God is light. Being a light means giving out the Word of God in one way or another. This doesn’t mean that you should be quoting Scripture all the time, but it does mean that you are to share the light that God has given you. It is very easy to cultivate some person, then quietly and graciously introduce them to a Bible-teaching church or radio program. There are many ways in which you can be light in the world. — J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary, electronic ed., vol. 4 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997), 31.

4.       Colossians 4.5, 6 is a good cross-reference. What does this teach us about what it means to be salty?

Paul wrote in Colossians 4:6, “Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.”

The Bible states that one of the hardest things you and I will ever have to deal with is the control of our own tongue. The book of James tells us that it’s more difficult to bridle the tongue than it is a wild horse. How true that is. You can get those words out, but you can’t stuff them back in! You can send them forth, but you can’t call them back. You can say something, but you can’t unsay it.

The tongue gets many people in trouble. What we say. How we say it. When we say it. So it’s not surprising to me that Paul would, in the final verse of this paragraph about living in the power of the Holy Spirit, talk about our Christian witness. — David Jeremiah, God in You: Releasing the Power of the Holy Spirit in Your Life (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, 1998), 326.

5.       How often should your conversation be salty?

Paul uses the word always. “Let your speech always be with grace.” Be consistent in how you speak. With the Spirit’s enabling, make gracious speech a habit of life. — David Jeremiah, God in You: Releasing the Power of the Holy Spirit in Your Life (Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, 1998), 326.

6.       We can often clarify our understanding of Scripture by thinking about its opposite. What is the opposite of conversation that is seasoned with salt?

Evangelist Michael Guido once learned an interesting lesson from snails: they are created with teeth on their tongues. A well-known scientist examined a snail’s tongue under a microscope and counted thirty thousand teeth. Usually the snail keeps its tongue rolled up like a ribbon; but when necessary, it sticks it out and the teeth do their damage.

Sometimes people have teeth on their tongues too, teeth that can snap, bite, and inflict damage. The Bible tells us to let our speech always be with grace. Not sometimes, but always, according to this verse. And we shouldn’t be boring. The phrase “seasoned with salt” specifically refers to salt’s power not as a preservative but as a seasoning. Salt keeps food from tasting bland or insipid. It makes a dish flavorful and enjoyable. That’s the way our talk should be.

Don’t be biting or boring in your conversations today; be edifying and interesting, knowing how to answer each one. — David Jeremiah, Turning Points with God: 365 Daily Devotions (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2014).

7.       Matthew 5.16. What is meant by “good deeds”? What would be some examples?

Men are to see our good deeds. In Greek there are two words for good. There is the word agathos (<G18>) which simply defines a thing as good in quality; there is kalos (<G2570>) which means that a thing is not only good, but that it is also winsome and beautiful and attractive. The word which is used here is kalos (<G2570>).

The good deeds of the Christian must be not only good; they must be also attractive. There must be a certain winsomeness in Christian goodness. The tragedy of so much so-called goodness is that in it there is an element of hardness and coldness and austerity. There is a goodness which attracts and a goodness which repels. There is a charm in true Christian goodness which makes it a lovely thing. — Barclay's Daily Study Bible (NT).

8.       Compare this section with the first part of Matthew 6. How do you harmonize the two?

It is further to be noted that our good deeds ought to draw attention, not to ourselves, but to God. This saying of Jesus is a total prohibition of what someone has called "theatrical goodness."

At a conference at which D. L. Moody was present there were also present some young people who took their Christian faith very seriously. One night they held an all night prayer meeting. As they were leaving it in the morning they met Moody, and he asked them what they had been doing. They told him; and then they went on: "Mr. Moody, see how our faces shine." Moody answered very gently: "Moses wist not that his face shone." That goodness which is conscious, which draws attention to itself, is not the Christian goodness.

One of the old historians wrote of Henry the Fifth after the Battle of Agincourt: "Neither would he suffer any ditties to be made and sung by the minstrels of his glorious victory, for that he would wholly have the praise and thanks altogether given to God." The Christian never thinks of what he has done, but of what God has enabled him to do. He never seeks to draw the eyes of men to himself, but always to direct them to God. So long as men are thinking of the praise, the thanks, the prestige which they will get for what they have done, they have not really even begun on the Christian way. — Barclay's Daily Study Bible (NT).

9.       How well would you say churches and Christians are doing at this—of letting your light so shine before men?

At the 1993 annual meeting of the American Heart Association, 300,000 doctors, nurses, and researchers met in Atlanta to discuss, among other things, the importance a low-fat diet plays in keeping our hearts healthy. Yet during mealtimes, they consumed fat-filled fast food—such as bacon cheeseburgers and fries—at about the same rate as people from other conventions. When one cardiologist was asked whether or not his partaking in high-fat meals set a bad example, he replied, “Not me, because I took my name tag off.” — Citation: Boston Globe (11-10-93); Stephen Nordbye; Charlton, Massachusetts /, More Perfect Illustrations: For Every Topic and Occasion (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 2003), 135.

10.   Why is secret discipleship—discipleship that does not let its light shine before men—a problem?

As I prepared this study I remembered doing a sermon on this subject sixteen years earlier in which I asked two questions: “Is it possible for a person to be a secret believer in the Lord Jesus Christ? Is it possible to believe in Jesus with our whole hearts and not confess him openly?” I was asking those questions because I had come to a passage in my study of the Gospel of John in which many of the Jewish leaders are said to have believed on Jesus even though “because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue” (John 12:42).

It was a puzzling text to me, because on the surface it seemed to say that silent belief is possible, while, at the same time, the language was such that I naturally wondered if the belief spoken of in the case of these religious leaders was genuine. After all, the passage goes on to say, “for they loved praise from men more than praise from God” (v. 43)—and that does not sound like genuine Christianity.

I finally concluded that, whatever the case may have been, these men were trying to do something that ultimately is impossible. For this reason: Either the secrecy kills the discipleship, or else the discipleship kills the secrecy. In the end, secret discipleship is a contradiction in terms, and this means that we must confess Jesus openly if we are to be (and remain) true Christian. — James Montgomery Boice, Romans (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1991–), 1206.

11.   What are some examples of individuals or churches that have taken seriously the command to “let your light so shine before men…”?

What does community transformation like this look like? In their book Externally Focused Church, Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson point out that Leesburg, Florida, is just a speck on the map of central Florida, and yet its First Baptist Church has spawned nearly 70 ministries that intersect the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of the people of that community! Through their men's shelter, women's care center, latchkey ministry, children's home, community medical care center and dozens of other ministries, they regularly lead hundreds of people to Christ and disciple them toward maturity.3

Charles Roesel, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of Leesburg, says, “For too long we've evaluated a church by how many people stream in the front door on a Sunday.” He proposes an alternative: “Evaluate a church by how many people serve the Lord Jesus by serving the hurting all week long.”4 The growth of his church attendance from 200 to 2,000 is no surprise. “As long as a church ministers to hurting people, it will never lack an audience,” Roesel points out.5

According to the dozens of examples Rusaw and Swanson provide, it doesn't take rocket science for a church to find ways to show the love of God to its city. A very simple example happened in Kansas City at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. When the town was going through economic hardships and morale in school districts was sagging, the church prayed for a way to bless the city. A volunteer team at the church had prepared one addressed card for every employee of the Kansas City School District. From the pulpit, Pastor Adam Hamilton challenged each person in attendance to take one of the pre-addressed cards, pray for the person named on it and, as God would lead, write a note of encouragement and thanks to that teacher, administrator, custodian, cafeteria worker, or whomever the recipient might be. The note was to be written in their own handwriting, with their stamp, and with their personal return address on it.

The entire congregation responded enthusiastically—and the response from the teachers and staff was tremendous. They were overwhelmed by the encouragement and offers of support. Many contacted those who wrote them and, as a result, many members of the Church of the Resurrection became involved in tutoring and reading programs in inner-city schools.6

As Robert Lewis so pointedly asks throughout his book The Church of Irresistible Influence, if your church closed its doors today, would anyone but its own members notice? Would the city be saddened because such a great community transformation partner was gone? Or would it even miss a beat?7 These are questions that is taking the missional-church discussion to a new level and making it more a question of deed than of words. — Elmer L. Towns et al., 11 Innovations in the Local Church: How Today’s Leaders Can Learn, Discern and Move into the Future (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2007).

12.   Let’s make a list of things we could do to let our light so shine before men. We are not committing to do anything at this point, let just make a list of things we could do.

As Lewis recounts in his book Culture Shift, the congregation he serves, Fellowship Bible Church, in Little Rock, Arkansas, needed to do far more than express moments of compassion toward its surrounding town. They needed to establish relationships and to do things the city thought were important. So they conducted a survey and held some focus groups. They concluded that the community's greatest area of need was its schools—the inner-city schools in particular:

We decided to create an event called ShareFest, where we would share a helping hand to certain parts of the community including a number of specific schools. As we approached school officials, they were at first skeptical and cautious. We assured them that our motive was not to preach, but to learn how we could help them. “Would you make a wish list of things you need for your school that perhaps we could help you with?” we asked. They did and we proceeded to bless them with all kinds of gifts: from new paint to new carpets to new playgrounds—all with no strings attached. We simply gave and left.8

The idea worked so well they did it again the next year. On the Sunday after they completed their second year, they invited three inner-city principals to Fellowship Bible Church to speak in the Sunday worship services. During the interviews, each one gave glory to God for the church's investment in the community, saying, “We have a new school because of you.” Robert Lewis continues:

One of our initiatives during Sharefest is to go door to door, meeting people in low-income communities and asking if we could help with home repairs and needs. One day as one of our members, Ray Williams, was mowing an elderly widow's yard, a young elementary school student named Michael, who lived there with his grandmother, came up to Ray and said, out of the blue, “Will you be my mentor?”

Ray's immediate thought was, I don't have time. Instead he asked, “What do you mean?”

The boy explained that they talk a lot at school about having a mentor, and since he really didn't have a family, he needed a mentor.

“Let me think about it,” Ray answered.

God tugged at Ray's heart and he ultimately said “yes.” He found out that Michael was a troubled kid. Ray asked the principal if he could start having lunch with Michael and he received a very reluctant okay. Ray started meeting Michael on a regular basis, helping with homework, and in many ways looking out for him as a son.

Ray's entrance into that school through Michael paid off and soon they were asking him, “Can your church send us some more mentors?” We did and even had the privilege of refurbishing that school through Sharefest. All because a white guy named Ray was willing to build a small bridge of love in an inner-city neighborhood.9 — Elmer L. Towns et al., 11 Innovations in the Local Church: How Today’s Leaders Can Learn, Discern and Move into the Future (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2007).

13.   What bad things happen when we don’t let our light so shine before men?

Karl Marx called Christianity the opiate of the people because he failed to see Christians allowing their faith to motivate them to address the social problems in London, England. Mahatma Gandhi studied Christianity and the teachings of Jesus at a time when Christians refused to address the issue of Apartheid in South Africa and concluded, “I would be a Christian if it were not for Christians.”

How different from the transformational movement described in the New Testament. There, the enemies of Christianity were forced to admit that Paul and Silas had been upsetting things everywhere by proving that Jesus had to suffer and that He rose from the dead. But the Jews were jealous and rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob, started a riot in the city and blamed it on Paul and Silas in order to put an end to what they were doing for Christianity in the community (see Acts 17:4-6). — Elmer L. Towns et al., 11 Innovations in the Local Church: How Today’s Leaders Can Learn, Discern and Move into the Future (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2007).

14.   What are some ways we could use Facebook and social media to let our light so shine before men?

Let's assume you have 200 people in your church that are on Facebook.

Assumption #2: each member of your church that is on Facebook has 200 friends. I have 4066.

Assumption #3: assume you have a Facebook moment each Sunday during church. Pause and ask everyone there to update their status with something like the following. (You might actually put a bunch of different options like this on the screens.)

·         Great to be in church today.

·         Great music at church today.

·         Great to see my friends at church today.

·         I love my church.

·         I rejoiced with those who said unto me, "Let us go to the house of the Lord."

·         Pastor Bob really shucked the corn today. (This one might work better in the South!)

·         The music was great at church today!

·         Another day to enjoy the abundant life Jesus promised!

The math

OK, assume those three things, here is how the math works out

·         200 people in your church

·         X 200 contacts per member

·         = 40,000 mentions of your church or Jesus every week.

·         X 52 weeks


Let's suppose 1% of that works out; it is still a good day! There is a cumulative effect of lots of people telling of Christ and your church over and over and over. A lot of my friends mention something about Christ multiple times every day. Imagine.

I often find myself saying: what a time to be alive! There has never been a better time to tell people about Christ!

15.   What are things to avoid—ways to be unsalty on social media?

Things to avoid

If you are in the sort of ministry where most of your Facebook friends are Christian leaders, it may be wise to consider having a separate Facebook profile, so that postings will not be off-putting or incomprehensible for not-yet-Christians. Read Mikey Lynch’s explanation of this principle. (See ideas for varying profile names. To save constant logging in and out, use a different browser such as Chrome for your second profile, which should be linked with a different email address to your first profile.) Always use this ‘secular’ profile when setting up, or contributing to secular-oriented Fan Pages or Groups.

Steer away from politics and social issues: any view you express on these is likely to alienate at least half your page visitors. Consider not entering anything (or at least, anything referencing a party or partisan viewpoint) in the ‘political views’ section of your profile either. This brings to mind the note, supposedly written by a family to the milk-man in the days when milk was delivered to the community from a cart with open containers: “Thank you for your excellent service. But please could you deliver the milk and the water in separate jugs in future.”

Under religious views on their Facebook profile, many people enter something like ‘Jesus follower’ or ‘seeker after truth’ rather than the increasingly pejorative ‘Christian’ or some denominational label.

Don’t treat people as ‘gospel fodder’. Build unconditional relationships with respect and tolerance. Use integrity. It’s dialogue, not preaching. “The focus should be on building authentic relationships. Without it, not only do you run the risk of not being effective, but also in ruining any chance that other Christians might have,” says Dan King of “That’s why the most important thing that you can understand about social media is that it’s social in nature.”

People will quickly see through insincerity and mixed motives. Cat owners know well the conditional affection shown by their pets when they want feeding: cupboard love. Facebook users will be less tolerant. They will quickly discern that you view them as ‘a project’ rather than a person.

Some stategists have named inappropriate, strident, argumentative, manipulative or impersonal attempts to convince people of the truth with the chilling term un-evangelism.

Avoid Chistrianese jargon. Express truths in alternate neutral language.

Don’t spend too much time on Facebook, or not use that time effectively. Read Top 9 Facebook Time Wasters to Avoid.

Read more: at Internet Evangelism Day Under Creative Commons License: Attribution

16.   Other than Facebook, what are some other ways we could use the Internet to let our lights so shine before men?

Over 1 billion people worldwide use the Internet as a source of information and entertainment. Have you ever thought about how you can combine your "Web presence" with your faith in God?

Link to Devotional Gained Much Attention

Mike Evans, owner of Gulf Coast Fans in Damon, Texas, considered that as he developed his business' first Web site several years ago. "I was thinking about the site and thought, How cool would it be to help spread the Good News?" he says.

A friend had shown him Promises, a devotion written by Campus Crusade for Christ's late founder Bill Bright. Knowing people would visit Mike's Web site browsing for ceiling fan parts, he placed a link to Promises right in the middle.

"You're looking through for blades or switches and sandwiched in there is the devotional."

Mike began to receive e-mails and phone calls complimenting his business on including a Christian resource on his Web site.

"When people began to take the time to do that, it made a difference in my heart," he says. "Who knows what one link might do in a life? It could change it completely."

Now, years later, all 7 of Mike's Web sites include the link.

What You Can Do Online

You don't have to own a business to lead web surfers to the gospel message. You might have a personal Web site, a blog or a profile on a social networking site like Facebook or MySpace.

Consider adding a link to resources like Promises, Would You Like to Know God Personally? or Who is Jesus? You could also list and similar Web pages among your favorite sites.

Or, you might bookmark a favorite article on for friends, family and strangers to read when visiting your Web space. Simply click the "Bookmark" icon on an article page and follow the instructions.

17.   If Jesus were alive today, do you think He would be on social media? How do you think He would use it? What do you think He would avoid?

Social media evangelism is the new frontline of evangelism, based on Christ’s method to mingle with people where they are, sympathize with them, meet their needs, and invite them to follow Jesus.5

Jesus’ method of spreading the gospel was through discipleship. We want to embody this method at all times in our Internet ministry. Digital missionaries should see the contacts they make as potential discipleship opportunities and the country Web pastor should certainly treat every visitor as a disciple in the making.

Discipleship on the Web looks just like discipleship on the ground. If we follow Christ’s method of reaching people, we can see that He spent time with people and wanted the best for them. He sympathized with what they were dealing with, and wherever possible, He met their needs. All of these factors gained the confidence of the people He was interacting with, and only after this happened would He then invite them to follow Him.6 Based on this method, here is a social media discipleship pathway:

• CONNECT (network) online: social networks, blogs, chat rooms, special interest sites.

• SHARE (post) relevant material that meets the needs of people and invite them to visit and explore wholistic life together through videos and articles.

• TALK (chat) with your online friends in order to understand their needs, and respond with the relevant messages of hope found in the Bible, and perhaps by sharing your personal story.

• MEET (offline) face-to-face to develop trust and confidence in Jesus.

• INVITE (follow) Jesus on the journey of spiritual development.

Your intention, every step of the way, should be to treat each visitor and contact as a potential disciple. You should take a personal interest in their lives. You cannot expect to disciple 500 to 1,000 people individually, but you can certainly take time to disciple a small group of people and build personal relationships.

These personal relationships will form the bonds necessary to create the community that brings people back time and time again to your social media evangelism network.

This network goes beyond mere digital relationships. Ultimately every disciple you create will become a real member, in a real church, somewhere in his or her local community. This is the goal of social media evangelism: digital connections with real disciples, leading to new membership in real churches.

18.   What about the apostle Paul… do you think he would use social media if he were around today? Why? How?

Imagine the miles Saint Paul could have shaved off his sandals if he had owned a mobile device with built-in Wi-Fi.

Nearly 2,000 years after Jesus commanded followers to go into all the world and make disciples, an increasing number of gospel messengers are doing their missionary travels by way of social media.

It is the latest trend: build a website by which, with the push of a button or click of a mouse, spiritual seekers from around the globe can hear and read about how to begin a personal relationship with Christ.

“We can spend how many millions of dollars to try to sneak someone into a country, and how many get led to Christ? Very few,” said John Essig, a pastor at Fellowship Church in Springfield, Ohio, who serves as part-time Ohio Director at Global Media Outreach, one of numerous international ministries with a goal of reaching the lost through the Internet.

“But by [them] having a cell phone you’re going to reach those who can’t otherwise get a missionary to come to them,” Essig said, adding that online/mobile outreach is effective in large part because it relies on response, not targeting.

“We know they’re seeking us, so there is not as much opposition,” he said, pausing. “It is amazing how God will find a way to find that lost person.”

The numbers reported by GMO are staggering.

“From 350,000 to two million people a day will read the gospel message, with about 15 percent of those clicking a button at the bottom of the page telling us they just gave their life to Christ,” Essig said, explaining that GMO’s vision is to give every person on earth multiple opportunities to hear about Jesus, with the goal of the Great Commission being fulfilled by 2020.

“How do you do that?” Essig said.

Easy. Just “click for Christ.” Those who do will receive from GMO an email that includes a note of encouragement and applicable Bible verse with a link to discipleship opportunities.

From there, one of GMO’s online missionaries connects with the seeker for what hopefully becomes more than a short-term discipling relationship.

“We’re not trying to replace the church,” Essig said. “But the idea is to get to them while they’re young [in the Lord] and feed them with the word so they can grow.”

19.   What specific step could you take this week to apply this lesson to your life?

20.   How can we pray for one another this week?


Note: More lessons like this at