My Life/Teen Life The Greatest “Story” Ever Told: Evangelizing on Instagram by Nick Bernard I love Instagram. I use it every day, sometimes way too much. If you scrolled through my Instagram feed, you’d probably see some aesthetic wedding photography, some colorful Catholic mission trip accounts, some trendy minimalist design, and a lot of Chaco ads. Were you to tap through my Instagram stories, you’d see my friends frolicking at summer camp, behind the scenes clips of bloggers and photographers, and a lot of pictures of my friends’ coffee and breakfasts. For me, the central goal of posting on Instagram isn’t to get likes or rake in followers (although those certainly used to be some of my main motivations) but instead to present an authentic representation of who I am, what I do, and what I love. And, certainly, a central part of all three of these areas is my Catholic faith, so, that’s a lot of what makes it to my Insta feed. Do I have a “Catholic account?” No, I have an Instagram account. But, I am a Catholic man who likes to share about my life on social media. So, what does that mean for me and sharing my faith on Instagram? Let’s break it down. I don’t always or only post about Catholic things — I also rep for a shoe company and post stories of my friends and I grocery shopping. Does posting about “secular” things adulterate my Catholic identity? No way! In fact, I believe that striking a balance between “churchy stuff” and “normal stuff” presents the most authentic vision of how we are to live out the Christian life. This is especially relevant in Instagram stories where uploads can be quick and without the magnitude of a new post. I want to encourage you to share about your faith on your Instagram stories, but not only by doing directly “religious” things. Religious images and themes on Insta are great (I share things like this all the time), but it’s also great simply to share about your normal life as your live out faith in the world. As I consider how best to share about faith on Instagram, three themes come to mind that I’ll share with you here. Authenticity When posting on your Instagram story, share about what you’re actually doing! You don’t have to fabricate something “Catholic” in order to share the Christian life. You don’t need to go out of your way to pose in front of a church or to take an aesthetic picture of a rosary in front of a rose bush. Instead, just share the little ways you interact with your faith in the context of everyday life. A video of your friends singing to your favorite song in the car can definitely witness to authentic Christian joy! Jesus became incarnate in the real world and so sanctified the authentic reality of the lived human experience — that means that the normal things we do have the potential to bring glory to God and to reveal God’s identity. Therefore, there are opportunities to share the Christian life without explicitly writing about faith at all. The simple joys of going to coffee with friends, reading, and having lunch can and do exhibit the joy of the Christian life! Beauty Instagram is a great platform to share photography, images, design, and color. That’s kind of the original purpose of the whole thing! Moreover, we know that the Catholic faith carries with it a powerful tradition of beauty to communicate truth and goodness, and this beauty doesn’t stop when we get to the internet. Artists of faith are invited to use new media and methods to be creative and to share their work. After all, the Lord is the King of Beauty! If you’re sharing a picture of yourself at Church, don’t be afraid to splash a filter on it to make it pop! If you’re sharing a Bible verse on your story, don’t be afraid to mix up the fonts and colors — there’s amazing potential for creativity and design just within the instagram app itself. The truths of faith we have to share are inherently good and beautiful, so it’s always appropriate to add some beauty to digital faith sharing. Vulnerability As you deem prudent, share about the things that are really going on in your life. Share about both your victories and failures, both your joys and struggles. Consider asking for prayers on instagram over situations in your own life, and offer opportunities for others to share their prayer requests with you with you. Create a space within your social media presence that invites yourself and others to share of themselves. The Christian life is one of both joy and sorrow, and it sends a powerful message when we present both of these things together. Of course, there are some things that are important pieces of our lives and our prayer that don’t belong on Instagram, and that’s totally okay. Holding back something private from the internet doesn’t mean you’re a phony; rather, it means that you’re being prudent in deciding which pieces of your life are best to share with others as a witness to the Christian life. Vulnerability comes always with boundaries, and these boundaries between public and private sharing transfer to Instagram, inspiring us to share those thing about ourselves which will best sanctify our own lives and the lives of others. Ultimately, the takeaway here is to be not afraid to share about your faith on Instagram (and other social media platforms for that matter!). In this digital age, there are many who thirst for Jesus and might see glimpses of Him through your social media content. The most beautiful and engaging story you can tell is your own, for that is the one that God has authored! So, whether or not you’re a super-mega-ultra-social-media-influencer (I certainly am not), just go for it! Type out your favorite Bible verse, share a pictures of your favorite saints on their feast days, and make silly videos of your friends being joyful together while making dinner or playing Rock Band. Moreover, our goal in sharing faith on Instagram isn’t even necessarily to evangelize; instead, it’s to witness to the joy of the Christian life we already lead. Simple as that. And witness is one of the most powerful teachers. So, as we journey together through the Christian life, let’s be unafraid to share on Instagram along the way. Let us give a witness to the joy of the Christian life and to the beauty of the truth we live.