Elder Bednar speaks at a BYU Devotional in the Marriott Center. He taught Church members to use social media to share uplifting messages. (Screen shot photo.)
Elder Bednar speaks at a BYU Devotional in the Marriott Center on Aug. 19, 2014. He taught Church members to use social media to share uplifting messages. (Screen shot)

Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles invited members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to share “authentic, edifying and praiseworthy” messages on social media websites today at a BYU Education Week devotional held in the Marriott Center.

Watch the full broadcast here, beginning at approximately 15:30.

“I believe the time has come for us as disciples of Christ to use these inspired tools appropriately and much more effectively to testify of God the Eternal Father, and His plan of happiness for his children, of his son Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world, to proclaim the reality of the restoration of the gospel in the latter days, and to accomplish the Lord’s work,” Elder Bednar said.

Elder Bednar mentioned five prominent social media websites — Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest — and explained how each could be used to share gospel messages.

He mentioned several successful attempts at sharing the gospel online, including the Church’s #BecauseofHim Easter campaign, the “I Pray When” video produced by the Mormon Channel, the @BofM365 Instagram account, official Church social media accounts and the #LDSConf hashtag.

“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 the trickle into a flood.”

“Meet the Mormons” film

Elder Bednar also announced the release of a feature-length documentary that will be released commercially on Oct. 10. “Meet the Mormons” was initially set for showing in the Legacy Theater, but plans changed.

Elder Bednar quoted Elder M. Russell Ballard, who said,In Shakespeare’s time, he was limited generally to the Globe Theatre, but we now have a global theater. As our opportunities widen with modern satellites, computers, fiber optics, and the Internet, the doors to the world are literally opened wide.”

In that sentiment, Elder Bednar announced that “Meet the Mormons” will be released first in select theaters in the United States. After that, the film will go to visitor centers, television, Internet movie channels and social media channels.

The film features several members of the Church from around the world and addresses several common misconceptions about members of our Church.

Possible perils and powerful possibilities

In his 2009 address “Things as they Really Are,” Elder Bednar warned of the dangers of some forms of online interactions. That warning, Elder Bednar said, is even more valid today.

“We should not allow even good applications of social media to overrule the better and best uses of our time, energy, and resources.”

But Elder Bednar built upon his warning by teaching the other, positive side of social media: its “powerful possibilities.”

“Beginning at this place on this day, I exhort you to sweep the earth with messages filled with righteousness and truth — messages that are authentic, edifying and praiseworthy — and literally to sweep the earth as with a flood,” Elder Bednar said. “I pray we will not simply participate in a flash flood that rises swiftly and then recedes just as rapidly. I am not suggesting a one-time glitzy initiative from which we quickly move on to the next task on our lengthly list of gospel things to do.”

Elder Bednar’s address fittingly inspired social media buzz in the hours following the broadcast.

Watch the full devotional on BYUTV here, beginning at approximately 15:30.

Elements of a Positive Message

In creating uplifting gospel messages, Elder Bednar counseled Church members to follow four guidelines in their social media interactions:

1. Be authentic and consistent. Elder Bednar cited Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson’s Pinterest board, which was uplifting, inspiring and appropriate long before she gained attention as General Young Women President.

2. Edify and Uplift. In this, Elder Bednar taught that members of the Church should seek to spread joy and peace, not disharmony and discord. “We and our messages should seek to edify and uplift rather than argue, debate, condemn, or belittle,” Elder Bednar said.

3. Respect Intellectual Property. Elder Bednar emphasized the importance of respecting the work and property of other people and organizations as Church members create uplifting messages. He mentioned the LDS.org media library, which provides royalty-free images for use in creating online content.

4. Be Wise and Vigilant. Elder Bednar taught that Church members should protect themselves and those they love by choosing carefully what photos, videos and text to distribute online.

“We should remember that the Internet never forgets,” Elder Bednar said. “Anything you communicate through a social media channel indeed will live forever.”

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