The following article is an excerpt from Elder Ballard's talk, Using New Media to Support the Work of the Church to BYU-Hawaii graduating students in December 2007.
You'll find encouragement and guidelines for using new media to further the Lord's work and let your voice be heard for good.
In His Own Words...
This is your world, the world of the future, with inventions undreamed of that will come in your lifetime as they have in mine. How will you use these marvelous inventions? More to the point, how will you use them to further the work of the Lord?
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has used the power of the printed word to spread the message of the Restored gospel throughout the world.
- 135 million copies of The Book of Mormon have been published to date.
- Church materials are published in 178 different languages.
- The printing press and other media have allowed us to take the Lord’s message to almost every corner of the earth.
- The Church has adopted and embraced the tools or print, broadcast media, and now the Internet.
The emergence of New Media is facilitating a world-wide conversation on almost every subject including religion, and nearly everyone can participate.
For Good or Ill
Now some of these tools – like any tool in an unpracticed or undisciplined hand – can be dangerous.
The Internet can be used to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ and can just as easily be used to market the filth and sleaze of pornography.
iTunes can be used to download uplifting and stirring music or the worst kind of anti-social lyrics, full of profanity.
Social networks on the Web can be used to expand healthy friendships as easily as they can be used by predators trying to trap the unwary.
That is no different from how people choose to use television or movies or even a library.
Satan is always quick to exploit the negative power of new inventions, to spoil and to degrade and to neutralize any effect for good.
Make sure that the choices you make in the use of new media are choices that expand your mind, increase your opportunities, and feed your soul.
It's a Conversation
There is perhaps no other time in its history when the Church has received more attention from the news media and on the Internet than it does right now. ...Public Affairs is making a concerted effort to define the message of the Restoration rather than letting others define our beliefs for us.
That word conversation is important. ...we cannot stand on the sidelines while others, including our critics, attempt to define what the Church teaches. While some conversations have audiences in the thousands or even millions, most are much, much smaller. But all conversations have an impact on those who participate in them. Perceptions of the Church are established one conversation at a time.
...some who seek answers want them to come directly from a member of the Church, like each one of you. They appreciate one-on-one conversations.
We Can Participate
Now all of you know that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are constantly reminded and encouraged to share the gospel with others. The Church is always looking for the most effective ways to declare our message. ...This is the most important work that we can participate in.
...I ask that you join the conversation by participating on the Internet, particularly the New Media, to share the gospel and to explain in simple, 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 at 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.
This, of course, requires that you, all members of the Church, understand the basic, fundamental principles of the gospel.
We are living in a world saturated with all kinds of voices. Perhaps now, more than ever, we have a major responsibility as Latter-day Saints to define ourselves, instead of letting others define us.
Recently, a columnist, writing in a major U.S. newspaper, was irresponsibly inaccurate in his description of the Church and our beliefs and practices. Dozens, perhaps even hundreds of Church members and others who understand our beliefs commented on the newspaper’s website correcting the misconceptions he was spreading and calling for accuracy.
A Church member living in the Midwest makes a concerted effort to share the gospel everyday, in person. He then writes a blog about his daily endeavors to share the teachings of the Book of Mormon and to give pass-along cards to all that he meets.
Others have recorded and posted their testimonies of the Restoration, the teachings of the Book of Mormon, and other gospel subjects on popular video-sharing sites.
You, too, can tell your story to nonmembers in this way.
Use stories and words that they will understand. Talk honestly and sincerely about the impact the gospel has had in your life, how has it helped you overcome weaknesses or challenges, and helped define your values.
The audiences for these and other New Media tools may often be small, but the cumulative effect of thousands of such stories can be great. The combined effort is certainly worth the outcome if but a few are influenced by your words of faith and love of God and His son Jesus Christ.
We all have interesting stories that have influenced our identity. Sharing those stories is a non-threatening way to talk to others. Telling those stories can help demystify the Church.
Remember Who You Are
Discussions focused on questioning, debating and doubting gospel principles do little to build the kingdom of God.
The Apostle Paul has admonished us to not be "ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ: for it is the power of God unto Salvation" (Romans 1:16). Let us all stand firmly and speak with faith in sharing our message with the world.
As you participate in this conversation and utilize the tools of New Media, remember who you are—you are Latter-day Saints.
Let your voice be heard in this great cause of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Read the Elder Ballard's full text here.