Religious messages come through different mediums, and they are gaining traction in the social media arena.
Lay church pastor Joel Osteen of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, currently has 9,048 tweets on his Twitter account and more than 1.6 million followers.
Osteen uses Twitter and Facebook as well as his website to share faith-promoting messages such as, “Light a fire on the inside. You have the seed of Almighty God. Don’t allow something small to keep you from God’s best.”
In addition to positive thoughts, Osteen’s website also allows followers to share experiences of when God blessed their lives or to make prayer requests online.
“The Bible says the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective, yet something extraordinary happens when two or more agree together in prayer. In Matt. 18:19, Jesus said, ‘If any two of you agree touching any matter on this earth, it shall be done.’ Post your prayer request below and believe that God is going to move mightily in your life as others from around the world pray in agreement with your request! You can also contact one of our telephone prayer partners directly at 713-491-1283 or toll free at 1-888-567-5635,” according to joelosteen.com.
In September 2012 Osteen published a book called “I Declare: Proclaiming the Promises of God Over Your Life,” which encourages readers to declare as positive affirmations the blessings promised in the scriptures. The hashtag #IDeclare is a popular Twitter label Osteen’s followers use.
“IDeclare that favor follows me! God will open doors that no man can shut,” one of the posts on the #IDeclare feed reads.
But Osteen is not the only religious leader using a Twitter account. Pope Francis also tweets, and he has almost 2.5 million followers.
Darrell Etherington, a writer for techcrunch.com, believes that religious leaders using technology to spread their message is a “natural progression.”
“You have televangelists, and that was something they gradually adopted ... when TV came out as a popular medium,” Etherington said. “It makes total sense to go to social media, especially for something like that where the whole structure is call and response. I think the engagement is the most important thing there. ... It’s perfect for that type of network.”
Abby Stevens is an intern for the Deseret News Faith and Family sections. She is a recent graduate of Brigham Young University–Idaho. Contact Abby at firstname.lastname@example.org.