In line with recent encouragement for Church members to “flood the earth” with gospel messages of truth, the Church’s Handbook 2 has been updated with newly worded guidelines on using the Internet for that purpose.
In his BYU Campus Education Week keynote address on Aug. 19, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, “What has been accomplished thus far in this dispensation communicating gospel messages through social media channels is a good beginning — but only a small trickle. I now extend to you the invitation to help transform that trickle into a flood.”
A few days prior to Elder Bednar’s address, Handbook 2, section 21.1.22 under “Administrative Policies” was updated to read as follows:
“Members are encouraged to use the Internet to flood the earth with testimonies of the Savior and His restored gospel. They should view blogs, social networks and other Internet technologies as tools that allow them to amplify their voice in promoting the messages of peace, hope and joy that accompany faith in Christ.
“Members are encouraged to share messages from official Church websites and social accounts as well as their own words, images and media. As members express their own thoughts and feelings, they should not give the impression that they represent or are sponsored by the Church.
“As members use the Internet to hasten the work of the Lord, they should exemplify civility and focus on sharing praiseworthy messages that strengthen those with whom they come in contact.”
The new wording reflects a more affirmative and assertive approach in encouraging Church members to make use of social media to express their feelings about their faith and the gospel via the Internet. Previously, the handbook guidelines merely cautioned members, if they use Internet technologies, to be good examples of their faith and to strengthen others and help them become aware of what is useful, good and praiseworthy.
“The Brethren have been working on this for some time now, but it was just published the week of Aug. 13,” said Jared Covington, senior adviser over social media for the Church. He added that a letter detailing the update would be sent to ward and stake leaders.
“In my mind,” Brother Covington said, “the most noteworthy new adjustment is the focus on empowering local leaders as well as all members to take advantage of digital communication platforms, whether that be on the web, social media or via mobile messaging apps.”
Brother Covington said Church leaders are well aware of the changing media landscape and are always considering how best to guide the membership in their use of these technologies to help “hasten the work.”
“After meeting with Saints from around the world, considering current communication best practices and much counsel and prayer, it was determined that it was time for this update to the handbook.”
Church members looking for ideas, tips and help on using social media to share the gospel may go to this web page: www.lds.org/church/share/goodness
On that page is a video link to Elder Bednar’s Education Week address, questions to stimulate thought, examples of brief social media messages and answers to commonly asked questions.