Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Missionary Work, Blogging and Sharing our Beliefs in Jesus Christ

In a recent article on http://www.deseretnews.com/article/765563338/LDS-missionary-blogs-useful-if-etiquette-is-observed.html?pg=1, the issue of missionary work and blogging was addressed, allowing an opportunity to once again review general etiquette, purpose and directions when using social media to share experiences relating to our beliefs. 

Exploring the possibilities of faith and prayer is a very private matter. People generally don't want to find their specific spiritual experience described in detail online, even with their names changed. A missionary blog might best serve its purpose if it is about the missionary, missionary work and spiritually uplifting experiences described in general terms, if involving others. Local members of the church and other missionaries often deserve credit for their spiritual influence, attitude or help and a positive mention by name is often deserved and appreciated when the occasion calls for it. Negative encounters and bad impressions are better left out and forgotten, never forgetting the unforgiving nature of permanence on the Internet. 

Social media allows us to share views and beliefs on a whole other level than a pulpit in a chapel, a friendly chat with a friend or family. There's a world of constantly evolving and exiting possibilities online but it never forgets and nothing is ever totally erased. 

The Internet reminds me of an old adage "Once spoken, words are difficult to retract." I think it is important to remember, that what we do on a blog is there for the whole world to see--always! As Elder M Russell Ballard reminds us: "Most of you already know that if you have access to the Internet you can start a blog in minutes and begin sharing what you know to be true." 

But, it is not enough that something is true--it must be right! For something to be good, it must be good for everyone involved. Simply changing a name for the sake of privacy does not insure privacy. Discretion, ethics, integrity and respect must be considered when sharing missionary experiences and representing our beliefs through social media. The church's "General Handbook of Instructions" states that: "Members are encouraged to be examples of their faith at all times and in all places, including on the Internet. If they use blogs, social networks, and other Internet technologies, they are encouraged to strengthen others and help them become aware of that which is useful, good, and praiseworthy." 

Doctrine and Covenants 38:41
And let your preaching be the warning voice, every man to his neighbor, in mildness and in meekness.

Elder M Russell Ballard makes a clear statement, encouraging our participation: "The emergence of New Media is facilitating a world-wide conversation on almost every subject including religion... may I ask that you join the conversation by participating on the Internet, particularly the New Media, to share the gospel and to explain in simple and clear terms the message of the Restoration." 

Doctrine and Covenants 88:81
Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor. 

The Internet and Social Media is one of our day's greatest blessings and I think it should be used to share our blessings and be of service to others. Because: "When Ye Are in the Service of Your Fellow Beings Ye Are Only in the Service of Your God" (Mosiah 2:17)

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