Using social media for good
As the debate continues over the use of social media by Christians, the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints has made its position clear on the issue, revealing that the church has done significant research and is very much in favour of the use of social media to reach a wide cross section of people with the gospel of Christ.
A senior church officer in charge of St Catherine and Kingston told Family and Religion that the church has relied on studies and is seeing where an estimated 2.67 billion persons across the globe will be using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by 2018, up from the present total of 1.91 billion.
According to Coordinator of Seminaries and Institutes of Religion - Jamaica, Royce Britton, the church firmly believes that social media can be a great blessing to all, if it is used appropriately.
"This is the information age, the youths today believe that social media and the Internet have the answers for everything. We have to try very hard to ensure that when they use social media we have a presence there also," he said.
"As with anything in life, social media can be used for both good and evil, we recognise the disadvantages and have instituted guidelines for our members to ensure that positive information and influence is observed."
Against the background of the Great Commission issued by Jesus, commanding his disciples to go into all the world and preach the gospel, Britton said the church uses social media to promote missionary efforts.
"The church believes that through social media, righteousness can be swept throughout the Earth as with a flood and can be used to gather the elect from the four quarters of the Earth."
Noted Britton: "It is also used to build awareness of the church and the gospel of Jesus Christ, to inspire members through videos, images and quotes."
He revealed that he personally subscribed to many of the official church Facebook pages and they allow him to see inspiring posts on a daily basis on a variety of topics.
According to him, the church believes that all members should have a voice, and when social media is used it presents an opportunity to promote goodness.
Britton said: "We believe that Christians should get involved and seek to do many good things of their own free will and social media is one way to share the message of goodness in the world."
Alluding to the disadvantages posed by the use of social media, he said members can be exposed to pornography, attacks on the church and inaccurate information.
"We are actively seeking to educate our members on how to recognise truth from error. One of our leaders taught that the Internet does not have a truth filter."
He said that while the church does not discourage members from using social media its helps them to recognise what is good from what is bad, what is accurate from what is false.
"In James 1:5, the scripture didn't say if any of you lack wisdom let him Google, or find it on social media. Instead, we are taught to seek answers from God through prayer. We also promote other ways of finding accurate information, such as studying the scriptures, listening to the living prophets and apostles and using the official church website," he declared.
Britton said some have lost their way due to the influences of social media and others have found their way.
"As with anything in life we must be wise and very careful. But we believe that social media inventions were inspired and can be used for more good than evil. That is our plan, to use it for good and to bless the lives of others," he said.