I've undertaken a new experience recently as an editor and contributor for another LDS women's blog. I'm excited about the opportunity to share the gospel in this capacity, and as I've considered how to make an impact there, my thoughts have turned again and again to the importance of voice. As we know, voice is more than just the way that we write, it's the authority and authenticity with which we write. It's subject and style and that...je ne said quoi that makes our writing unique to each of us.
As I've pondered how best to use voice in my writing, I stumbled upon an Ensign article from Elder Ballard. Elder Ballard talked about how more and more people are telling the story of what it means to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and their stories are on the internet for anyone inquiring what it means to be a Mormon. Yet many of these people aren't members of the church, aren't active, or don't actually believe/live the fundamental principles of the gospel.
Everywhere, people are telling stories about the church. But the stories they're telling aren't my stories, and the church they're describing doesn't sound like my church. So if someone is searching for answers--member or not--are they actually finding a good report of the gospel on the internet? Are they being uplifted by what they find? Is the content drawing them closer to their Savior?
Too often, the answer to each of these questions is no.
But that doesn't need to be the case. Elder Ballard said,
You have a great opportunity to be a powerful force for good in the Church and in the world. There is truth in the old adage that “the pen is mightier than the sword.” 1 In many cases it is with words that you will accomplish the great things that you set out to do.We're writers. We know this. :) But he adds (emphasis mine),
There are conversations going on about the Church constantly. Those conversations will continue whether or not we choose to participate in them. But we cannot stand on the sidelines while others, including our critics, attempt to define what the Church teaches.In other words, we need to use our voices and exercise our talents to take part in these conversations. Elder Ballard explains in the article that there are too many conversations and questions happening for the church to address every one. So he calls on us--as faithful member of the Lord's church--to help in this noble work. Again, I quote Elder Ballard:
Now, may I ask that you join the conversation by participating on the Internet to share the gospel and to explain in simple and clear terms the message of the Restoration. 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. It is essential that you are able to offer a and witness of gospel truths. It is also important that you and the people to whom you testify understand that you do not speak for the Church as a whole. You speak as one member—but you testify of the truths you have come to know.Each of us here has been blessed with a gift in/love of writing. Whether that's journaling, family history, blogging, non-fiction, short stories, or novels, we all have a desire to write, and we have powerful voices that the world needs to hear.
I encourage everyone to take a minute to read Elder Ballard's talk. If nothing else, I challenge all of us to look for opportunities to bear testimony online (without getting caught in the weeds of argument and doubt, of course!). The world needs to know the truth of the restored gospel. Earnest seekers of truth need to know our stories. The Lord is counting on each of us.
Have you had an experience sharing the gospel online? What tips do you have for those of us who may be new to it? What cautions would you give? What concerns do you have in sharing your gospel story online?