- Youth & Leaders
- Relief Society
My 2014 Stake Conference Talk: How Social Media Can Help Strengthen our Testimonies and Help us Hasten God's Work
A couple Saturday evenings ago, I had the opportunity to speak in the evening session of our Stake Conference. About two weeks before the experience I had received a phone call by a member of our Stake Presidency. Actually, he had called twice and had left a voice message, stating he'd like to chat. As I drove home after listening to the voice message my mind was a flurry of thoughts. First I analyzed the phone call and determined that he said "chat", not visit. So that would mean probably not a calling. Then, I thought about Stake Conference coming up. When that thought came to mind, I was pretty much sure that it was probably something in regards to it. Then I thought about how I had just became Facebook friends with the Stake President just days earlier. When I returned home, I did call the member of the Stake Presidency back. My suspicious were correct, I was being asked to speak in Stake Conference and it was thanks to Social Media. Although it might not have been a direct result as to becoming Facebook friends with the Stake President, I was being asked to give a 15 minute talk about Social Media and Blogging.
When given the topic I immediately started to pray. I had concerns about how I would address the topic and help it pertain to everyone that listened. I prayed a lot, I read a lot, and I listened a lot for the Spirit to prompt me to how I would give this talk. I prayed some more, I wrote my talk read through it, revised it. Prayed and repeat. Finally, I felt what I had written was what my Heavenly Father would like me to share. Then, about two hours before the session I would be speaking in I attended the Leadership meeting. I was amazed at the talks that were given and how it seemed they did not look at any papers at the pulpit. I had even said to my Bishop who was there that I would probably just stand up and read my paper, I had written. He gave me some great counsel, to pray before going up there, stating that I had prepared as much as I could and that I was going to leave it in my Heavenly Father's hands to have him direct me as I spoke. I am so grateful for his counsel. During my talk I was able to not read it word for word, but rather rely on my preparation and the promptings of the Spirit as I delivered my talk. There were things that I had said that I had not written down.
I decided that I would post my talk on here since I had some friends that were unable to attend the session, but wanted to hear the talk. It is not going to be word for word, because I am not sure I can remember all of the things I had said that I had not previously written down. But it is close to what was said.
"When I received a voice message a couple weeks back from a member of the Stake Presidency, stating he would like to chat with me, the wheels in my mind went into overdrive as I thought what he could possibly want to chat with me about. Then, the thought came to mind that Stake Conference was coming up and then the realization came that I had just became Facebook friends with the Stake President. After returning home and giving him a call back my suspicions were confirmed, I was indeed being asked to speak in the Adult Session of Stake conference and it was all thanks to Social Media .
That being said, I am greatly honored, humbled and feel completely inadequate as I stand before you today. I pray that we can each have open hearts and minds, that the Spirit will help us hear the things our Heavenly Father would have us hear and that we can receive personal guidance and direction. I hope that I can convey how using social media can help us further our Heavenly Father’s work as well as strengthen our own testimonies.
About a year and a half ago I had an opportunity to attend a special Leadership meeting. The topic of the meeting was, “The Work of Salvation”. During the Broadcast, Elder Perry stated, “Just as missionaries must adapt to a changing world, members must also change the way they think about missionary work. In saying this, I wish to make it clear that what we, as members, are asked to do has not changed, but the way in which we fulfill our responsibility to share the gospel must adapt to a changing world.” Our world is one now where we carry our scriptures in our pockets, we can communicate with people around the world while shopping at a grocery store. We can search and receive an instant answer to a question. We have these little electronic devices with us at all times and in all places.
I would like to share one of the first experiences I had with using technology to share a missionary message. At a training I attended, we were each asked to take our cell phones out. We were then asked to think about someone who had an influence in our lives, maybe even someone that was struggling in the gospel or did not have the gospel in their lives. Then we were to send them a text, a message of appreciation. As I sat there thinking about who I would send a text to, my first thought was, "Oh I’ll just send the message to my mom, she's done so much for me and I appreciate her." But then I had an overwhelming feeling that I needed to send it to another person. I followed the prompting and sent the message that I felt needed to be sent. After waiting a moment we were then asked to look at our phones to see if we had received a response. I can testify to you that the Spirit was felt so strongly in the room as some of those in attendance shared their responses and their feelings from the experience. This is one of the moments in my life when I have felt the Spirit so strongly that what I could never deny what I felt and the testimony I was gaining from the experience. I did receive a positive response and later found out that the person I was prompted to send the text to had had a hard day. I know that our Heavenly Father will send us promptings through the Spirit of those who need a kind word or a thoughtful message sent to them. How blessed we are to have the ability in the palm of our hands that we can so easily send a heartfelt message that can have such a positive influence in another’s life. At that same meeting we were instructed as to the importance of social media and technology in the hastening of missionary work. I remember being filled with the Spirit as we were told that "The Work of Salvation" meeting I had attended previously that year was the "meeting of the century".
President Eyring has said, “Whatever our age, capacity, church calling, or location, we are as one called to the work to help Him in His harvest of Souls.”
Each of us is called of God to further His work at this time. It is his work and we are his soldiers or his servants who are asked to accomplish this great work. I have found it very easy for me to do this through social media and blogging. It is so much less intimidating to share the gospel this way. You are not face to face. You can share your beliefs and if someone would like to read they can. One thing I do is I blog. On a blog or website we can share our beliefs and our testimonies. We can share our talents and help to inspire others. On Lds.org it says this about blogging, “You can be a missionary just by being a good example of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For example, telling your friends you went to church on Sunday lets them know you participate actively in the gospel. By your everyday actions, others can also know that Mormons strive to follow Christ. Now imagine your influence expanding even greater on a blog.” It goes further to say, “Most important, follow the Holy Ghost’s guidance as you contemplate ways you can use your blog to share the gospel.”
As I share experiences and ideas on my blog I try to follow that guidance of the Holy Ghost. Before I post something I pray, asking Heavenly Father to direct me as to the things he would like me to share. I know that the things I share do not come from just me, I know that it is through the direction of my Heavenly Father. As I have blogged and relied on the Spirit my testimony has been strengthened. My knowledge has increased as I study gospel topics and doctrine so I can share those things that my Heavenly Father would have me share. One thing I share each week on my blog is what my family is doing for Family Home Evening. As I have done this, Family Home Evening has been a greater focus in my life and I have been able to share that with others. The great thing about using a blog for missionary work is that it reaches people all around the world. I have been able to correspond through comments with people that I would never have had interaction with, otherwise. It is an amazing thing when you receive a comment from someone in Brazil or Thailand stating that what you have shared has helped to bless someones life in another country.
There are both members of the church and those not of the church that read blogs. Recently, I read an article published by a non-member blogger, that stated that she is completely obsessed with reading “Mormon blogs”, she says the reasoning is that they are weirdly “uplifting”. In a world that degrades the family that shares negativity about being a mom. It is so important that we express to the world the joys of motherhood and fatherhood, the happiness of marriage and the importance of family. Youth, think of the positive influence you can have on your friends and youth around the world as you stand firm in your beliefs and share your experiences and talents. Think about ways you can share your spiritual experiences.
In the October 2009 Ensign in the article, Be a Blogging Missionary, DELORES DEVICTORIA states, “Because the Internet doesn't force the same commitment as meeting in person, it can be viewed as a safe haven for those who are questioning but aren't ready to invite the missionaries into their home. If they can find answers and have the Spirit touch their hearts, they may be more willing to accept the missionaries later.” I believe that is so important to remember, that with every opportunity we are given we might be facilitating a way that the Spirit might touch someones heart. Preparing them to receive the missionaries at sometime in their life.
Another way to share the gospel is through social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Because of the guidance of our church leaders and inspiring messages I have heard in ward counsel it has moved me to more frequently share my testimony and beliefs on Facebook. With the new #ShareGoodness campaign we have been asked to flood the earth with “simple messages of goodness and truth.” One thing that I enjoy doing is each day I share a gratitude moment on my Facebook page. It has been a testimony building experience to think of the things my Heavenly Father has blessed me with and express gratitude for those things. Sometimes I share a video or article from lds.org that goes along with what I am grateful for, other times I may share an image or just plainly words of gratitude. I also, love when I can look at my news feed and see uplifting messages and inspiring stories from my friends. When we share our testimony our testimony increases and when we hear others testimonies it strengthens our own.
The statistic are amazing. There are over 2 billion internet users worldwide. This number has increased 566% since the year 2000. Each day over 500 million people logon to Facebook. (thecultuerist.com). These people are looking through their news feeds on Facebook, scrolling through tweets on Twitter, pinning links on Pinterest, and viewing images on Instagram. Not to mention those who are searching for knowledge and understanding on search engines and viewing and downloading videos on Youtube. Each one of these people are searching for something. Why not give them something about the gospel to find, why not share our experiences and our talents and testimonies? Why not flood the Internet with messages of the restored gospel? As we share on social media and blogging we need to make sure that we are sharing “messages that are authentic, edifying, and praiseworthy” as Elder Bednar explained in his talk at BYU’s education week.
We are in the changing world Elder Perry spoke of. As I listened to Elder Bednar's speech I was greatly impressed as I heard prophecies of former prophets one of such was, President Kimball in 1974. This was before I was born, I found it extremely interesting that he was prophesying of what is coming to pass at this time. He said, “I believe that the Lord is anxious to put into our hands inventions of which we laymen have hardly had a glimpse. …
“With the Lord providing these miracles of communication, and with the increased efforts and devotion of our missionaries and all of us, and all others who are ‘sent,’ surely the divine injunction will come to pass: ‘For, verily, the sound must go forth from this place into all the world, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth—the gospel must be preached unto every creature’ (D&C 58:64)” (“When the World Will Be Converted,” Ensign,Oct. 1974, 10–11).
The time is now, the technology is in place. Let us each think about how we personally can use these technologies to further our Heavenly Father’s Work. Let us share our beliefs, our testimonies, our experiences and reach out with love, compassion and kindness.
Now, if the words news feed, tweets, pinning and Instagram sound completely foreign to you. That is okay. It is all part of learning and “adapting to a changing world”. There are people and resources available to help you learn these new technologies. On lds.org there is a page titled “Share the Gospel Via Social Media”. In the header of this page is a quote by President Uchtdorf, he states,
“Sharing the good news of the gospel is easier and the effects more far-reaching than ever before. . . . Perhaps the Lord’s encouragement to ‘open [your] mouths’ might today include ‘use your hands’ to blog and text message the gospel to all the world!” . . .
“With the blessings of modern technology, we can express gratitude and joy about God’s great plan for His children in a way that can be heard . . . around the world. Sometimes a single phrase of testimony can set events in motion that affect someone’s life for eternity.” — President Dieter F. Uchtdorf (Ensign, May 2011, “Waiting on the Road to Damascus.”)
On the page there are examples of social media sites and explanations of each. What an exciting time we live in that we can share the gospel message not just with our neighbors but also with someone who lives on the other side of the world. What a great opportunity we have to come together as families and friends to help each other learn these new ways of gospel sharing. I can see grandkids helping their grandparents learn and use Social media.
I know that as we do what our Heavenly Father has asked of us, we will have the Spirit more constantly with us. That we will grow closer to our Heavenly Father and our testimonies will be strengthened. That our will, will become the Father’s. How great will be our joy when we can stand before our Heavenly Father and say that we have done what he has asked in building his kingdom and hastening his work. I would like to bear you my testimony of these things and say them in the name of Jesus Christ Amen. "
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to the rest of the speakers and the words of our Stake President. I learned so much from preparing my own talk as well as the inspiring words spoken by the rest of those who spoke. I can say that I have a firm testimony that our Heavenly Father has provided these technological advancements at this time for his purposes. I know that it is the way that, every person, kindred and tongue will hear the message of the restored gospel. It is an important part of missionary work and is one that everyone can participate in.
Disclaimer: The views published in this post are my views, in-sites and testimony, I have received personally. They are not sponsored or endorsed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.