Int’l (MNN) — Type “social media, millennials, and the Gospel” into your search engine, and an array of responses will come up. The number of books written on these topics continues to grow. It seems like everyone has an opinion about how to utilize social media to reach the world with the Gospel.
We spoke with Carl Moeller of Biblica to get his take on the matter. Over the last 18 months, they’ve tried a new strategy with their Facebook page only to see their followers climb from 10,000 to over 100,000–in just 18 months!
What they did
Biblica went out on a limb and did something many social media experts say not to do. They lengthened their Facebook posts.
Moeller shares why: “What we’re actually finding is that a lot of the conventional wisdom in social media about shorter is better–tighter message, reduce everything down to 160 characters–just doesn’t work when it comes to the deep, spiritual longings, in many cases that people have. And they’re turning to social media because they don’t really know any other place to go to have those questions answered.”
He says these people want to know about a deeper, richer encounter with God through His word rather than little “nuggets” of information here and there.
And so, Biblica provided that availability right on their Facebook page, intending people to be able to read sections of Scripture right through social media.
Moeller says there has been an extreme decrease in the number of people reading their Bible. This is especially true of millennials.
Part of the reason is that millennials are so used to being fed digital bite-sized pieces of everything, and little bites of Scripture through social media are only exacerbating the problem.
Biblica began inviting followers on a daily study of the Bible through their posts instead of posting a verse of the day. In place of quick tidbits of Scripture–maybe with a few words of advice on top of it, they went through entire books little-by-little each day. Biblica says in this way, they are following the natural contours of Scripture. In addition, Biblica began offering weekly tips for reading the Bible and weekly summaries of each book.
Essentially they are teaching people who have never learned to read their Bible how to read it.
Aside from the increase in followers, Biblica saw some other interesting numbers. For instance, 85% of their followers are outside the United States. Biblica also reaches 1250,00 to 150,000 people on Facebook with Scripture.
Moeller says, “One thing about Facebook is that it’s brilliant in its ability to identify what people really do like.” And Biblica has discovered a lot of Facebook users like what they have been doing.
Are you surprised?
Moeller says the hunger for Scripture hasn’t necessarily caught on in the United States.
One distinction between the United States and countries where Christians are persecuted is that in the United States, Christians don’t read their Bible as a community.
Moeller explains: “In America, too many of us have been raised and schooled and trained in sitting and listening to someone preach, and not reading, together, the Word of God. That’s one of our main thrusts here at Biblica: to get more people reading the Bible in community.”
While Moeller knows he is no social media expert, he says the numbers signify something obvious to him: “There is a deep hunger in the American Church for authenticity.”
He continues to say of the group most engaged in the digital world: “I think there are other studies that say this millennial generation wants more depth, more texture, more nuance in their approach to issues, not a black and white generation.”
Biblica is excited with these results. They are breaking the guidelines, and God is blessing them. Because this is so new, it’s hard to say exactly how people can get involved.
Moeller says of Biblica, “I think where we go from here with our social media and our attempt to engage people with the depths of the Bible through social media is to continue to grow and to continue to challenge people to come to us with their questions and their desire to explore the Bible in its totality.”
As you consider the exciting prospect of teaching seekers how to learn about God through their Bible, you can pray for Christian organizations using social media to use it effectively and appropriately.
And maybe hearts will be changed and transformed by encountering the Word of God on Facebook. Moeller says, “I think anybody who cares about the cause of Christ is thrilled when someone who has been sort of on the fringe, or somewhat skeptical, says, ‘You know what? I’m willing to give the Bible a try. I’m willing to read it for what it’s worth and to take its message and to understand it.”
You can find Biblica’s Facebook page here.