Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have often been encouraged to express their beliefs online. With the creation of mormon.org and several other LDS church sites, it has become easy for members to share what they believe. Rather than knocking on doors, members of the LDS church, often referred to as "member missionaries," have been encouraged to reach a much broader audience.
In 2007, Elder M. Russell Ballard spoke to a Brigham Young University-Hawaii graduating class regarding their potential to share the gospel.
"With new technological tools, you can further the work of the Lord by joining the ongoing conversation about the church," Elder Ballard said. "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. You can download videos from church and other appropriate sites, including newsroom.lds.org, and send them to your friends. You can write to media sites on the Internet that report on the church and voice your views as to the accuracy of the reports."
Earlier this year, Shalyn Back of the Mormon Channel and Fernando Camilo, a social media specialist, appeared in a video on the Mormon Channel, discussing how the church is using several different social media platforms.
Back began by showing different ways users can share links with specific people, for more private messages.
"I think when people want to share their beliefs, especially through social media, it's pretty intimidating," Back said. She then explained there are many simple ways to get involved. "It's very easy and nonintrusive."
Camilo expressed how sharable the content on lds.org has become.
"Lds.org has so much information there; it's such an easy way to share talks or videos or even images with your friends," Camilo said.
Last week Al Fox, an LDS blogger and public speaker, instructed several Brigham Young University students on how to share religious beliefs online. The seminar, called "How to Be a Mormon Online," was hosted by YServe and The Vineyard at BYU.
Fox has also spoken at several firesides and other public events. On Sunday, Fox appeared on "Mormon Times TV" to discuss her journey as a convert to the LDS Church.
In the video, Fox shares that she felt prompted to move to Utah rather than serve a mission. Yet her social media efforts have turned into her own way of sharing the gospel every day. Since converting, she has created YouTube videos and group pages on Facebook to share her beliefs — and others have caught on.
In a blog post from last year, Fox shared an experience where she turned to social media to bear testimony. It was her 24th birthday, and Fox decided to request a birthday wish for others to share their testimony as their Facebook status.
"Before 10 a.m. I had over 150 notifications of people sharing their testimony as a Facebook status," Fox wrote. "I tried to follow as many as I could, but it spread and shared faster than I could keep up, spreading to people I didn't know, spreading to different states and even other countries!"
Emails and messages of thanks poured in to Fox, expressing senders' gratitude to her for the challenge to share their beliefs.
One commenter said, "Just wanted to personally thank you for the wise birthday wish. I'm a returned missionary as of two weeks ago, and your birthday wish certainly inspired me to do more and be better."
Another shared, "Hey, I know you don't know me. ... I was wondering why all these testimonies were all over my Facebook news feed and they made me think a lot."
A stake president at BYU-Idaho also encouraged the young single adult members to share their testimonies in a video. Members were then encouraged to share the video on their own social media networks. Several members joined together to create a video to express why they are willing to participate in their stake president's challenge.
"It's such a privilege to have technology, and it's important to use it for the right reasons," one member said. "Technology is a wonderful way to share the gospel."
Many of the testimony videos have already been published online.