Thursday, October 3, 2013

Week 6- Identifying Trends in the Performance and Construction of Lived Religion Online

This post will look at the common trends, strategies, and messages that the three Facebook pages, I have chosen to use, employ to talk about religion online. I will look back at the six examples discussed in my earlier posts to find these commonalities.

“Joel Osteen Ministries” and “T.D. Jakes Ministries” were similar in that they both chose to primarily use motivational messages and mini sermons to talk about Christianity. These types of posts generally caused a lot of activity as the followers replied to them asking for prayer or even just acknowledging the truthfulness of what was said. “Jesus Daily” on the other hand chose to employ more visual elements when it came to promoting Christianity. They posted emotionally charged pictures with captions that caused the followers to think about God and all the sacrifices he has made for this world. I also noticed a difference in the way these pages were run as “Joel Osteen Ministries” tended to respond to their followers on a regular basis while the other two pages limited their activity to their original posts.

The common message that is being promoted over all three pages is that no matter what situation you are in God can help you get through it. All He wants is that you come to him and ask. An excerpt from a popular scripture comes to mind that hits the nail on the head, “Ask and it shall be given…” The followers of these pages also tend to share similar stories of the struggle they face in everyday life and how God helps them get through it.

The pages are not promoting conflicting messages because they are all dedicated to promoting God and how he can change your life. They all are based on Christianity and because of this tend to attract followers of like faith that use these pages to grow in their faith through discussions and prayer requests.

The research question that I have formulated out of my observations is: When using Facebook, what strategies or trends work best when trying to frame the Christian faith on a social media platform and promote its core beliefs and values?

Lived religion online focuses on the idea that in order to be closer to God you have to develop a personal relationship with him. My research has uncovered that those who have this type of relationship with God tend to be more vocal about their opinions and beliefs, and are more apt to influence other believers. Another key trait would be that those active on these sites aren’t afraid to ask for help and prayer, nor are they afraid to give it. Lived religion is about taking action and with these findings I can focus my research in a way that allows me to really see who is using Facebook to construct and perform their religion, which in this case is Christianity.

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