I can just see it now: Jesus, having just multiplied the loaves and fishes, first stopping the disciples from distributing the food to snap a quick photo and uploading it with the caption "#blessed."
Okay, so obviously if Jesus had social media back in the first century, I doubt He'd be the selfie and food pics type of poster.
But what if social media had been available back in Jesus' time? How would He have used it to grow the early Church?
Well first we have to ask the question - would Jesus use social media at all?
I think the answer is a resounding yes. After all, He did specifically tell the disciples to go to "all the nations" with the Gospel message, and technology has made that even more accessible today.
Plus, as Frank Powell shares in his article "What would Jesus post?" Jesus' most common place of teaching was publicly in the marketplace - and the best equivalent we have to that kind of crowd today is online.
(Note: I don't necessarily agree with the rest of what Mr. Powell shares in the article, but thought that one point was intriguing.)
Okay, so Jesus probably would have used it as part of His public ministry. But how exactly would He have used it from an evangelistic (aka Catholic marketing) perspective? And what can we learn from how we'd imagine He'd use it?
He would tell stories.
Jesus was a master storyteller, using parables to weave His audience in and teach them a lesson.
I can only imagine He'd used His posts in the same way, telling a story that intrigued people and invited them to see themselves in the story instead of talking at them or just "selling" them on salvation.
That's just good social media policy too - captions that tell a story are far more likely to get past the dreaded "read more" line than ones that are direct and salesy.
And it doesn't have to be a "once upon a time" kind of story - it can simply be identifying a problem that your audience has and explaining how your ministry can solve it.
He would engage the trolls.
We all know Jesus thrived on a good debate (I mean, He kind of had an unfair advantage, being God and all, but still...).
So if He encountered someone He didn't agree with, I don't think He would ignore them or berate them. Instead, I think He would lead them into dialogue.
His mercy-first encounters with prostitutes and tax collectors and philosophical debates with the leadership of the time even on the day of His death illustrates His ability to
We can do the same. I often encourage ministries to remember that "trolls have souls" and that part of our evangelistic responsibility on social media is to be a stepping stone towards the faith for them.
And like the rich young man, we may not win over every soul, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't try.
He wouldn't chase the short term.
Social media is great, but it's also set us up for unrealistic instant instant gratification from our marketing efforts. You post something amazing? Poof! Hundreds and thousands of likes and comments and shares.
But that's not how marketing really works.
That's where I find so many Catholic social media marketers get tripped up. We think that posting to social should get the reaction we desire RIGHT NOW because social media interactions are all about that quick hit of seeing likes and comments and shares, and we assume that it works the same way with bigger asks like donating, purchasing, RSVPing for an event, etc.
Here's the reality: Marketing work takes time. A lot of time, in fact.
That reel you're posting today? Maybe it's getting seen by someone who will follow you today and then purchase 1-2 months from now.
That post about the event that's coming up at your church? Yep, it may take a few more posts for them to actually be convinced to attend.
Think about the last thing you bought that wasn't a routine purchase. How much time did you take to think about it? How long did it sit in your cart before you finally took the plunge to buy it?
Marketing is a long game. It's designed not for instant action, but rather long-term relationship building.
That's literally how Jesus and the apostles grew the early Church. It wasn't like He died on the cross and suddenly everyone believed in Him. It took a long time of relationship building (three years) to get just 12 apostles (and how many of them were actually there at the crucifixion?).
And yes, sometimes we have viral "spurts" of evangelization, like the 3,000 who were baptized on Pentecost, but those are few and far between. Instead, the apostles had to put in the day to day work, just like we do now in our ministries today.
So if you're not seeing instant gratification from social these days, it doesn't mean you're failing. It's just marketing at work, like it has been since the early days of the Church.
He would make it personal.
There's often a hesitancy for ministries to become engaged with social media marketing because it requires a lot of personality and vulnerability.
But that's exactly how Jesus ran His public ministry.
He was all about individuals. He didn't let the past sins of the woman at the well or Matthew the tax collector stand in the way of their salvation - He saw them, not their stereotypes. And while social media is a very public forum, it works best when we treat it in the same way we would any evangelistic encounter - one on one.
And sometimes, that requires us to be vulnerable first, to take that first step of encounter and sharing our own journey to have others invite us into theirs. Not in a self-centered way, but in a truly self-giving way.
So I think Jesus would have shared parts of His day to Instagram stories. I think He would have set up Facebook events to let people know where He was preaching. I think His Twitter account would have been filled with the incredible one-liners He gave in person. And I even think He might have engaged in the latest TikTok challenge just to bring people some joy.
Not to build Himself up, but to build up the Kingdom - just the same as we should.