The purpose of the website you adopt from More Good Foundation is to enable you to share the gospel with others, both church members and non-members. This is a serious responsibility, since you represent not only yourself, but also More Good Foundation, the Church, God, and the Savior. While you are not an official voice for anyone but yourself, others will judge the Church by what you say on your website. Because of this, operating this website is a bit different from operating your own. You must be certain you represent these groups well.
Your adopted LDS website should focus on the gospel, rather than on debate. It’s not a place to express a lack of faith or to debate politics beyond the church’s own involvement. Your goal should be to strengthen the existing testimonies of your readers or to guide people to gaining a testimony.
Elder Ballard recently offered wise counsel on this topic. He suggested we not let others direct the conversation into issues that are not important to our eternal salvation, but that we focus on core issues—our faith in Jesus Christ and on the restored gospel. He advised us to avoid sounding defensive or getting drawn into an argument. “Please remember you do not need to feel like you must justify your beliefs; you simply need to explain them in the spirit of love and kindness. The truth always prevails when true doctrine is taught (Elder M. Russell Ballard: Engaging Without Being Defensive).
Make it clear you are not an official representative of the church, but don’t be wishy-washy about your faith. Speak confidently with the full force of your testimony. Help people see the gospel in a positive way through your own example. Treat them as if they were a guest in your chapel, welcomed with open arms. If someone tries to debate, lead them gently back to the core of the gospel. Most importantly, make sure your readers know how you know what you know. Point out the blessings that have come to you through your obedience to the teachings of God and do so in concrete measurable ways sometimes. While you’ll share how the gospel brings peace and joy, sometimes people want, at least at first, something more practical.
“By carrying out the teachings on families, I’ve really developed a closer relationship with my children. Family Home Evening has made a big difference and my children now love spending time with their family, instead of always wanting to be with friends.” This is a goal many people have and with this kind of testimonial, readers struggling with family relationships will be drawn in and want to learn more about family home evening. Once they’ve learned about this program, they may encounter another program that also interests them, perhaps one you mentioned in your articles on Family Home Evening. If each article mentions a related topic, you can lead them from teaching to teaching until they’ve reached the core of the gospel.
Back up your statements with quotes from church leaders and scriptures. You don’t want to scripture-bash, but showing readers you’re teaching a Biblical concept can help. Additionally, quoting the Book of Mormon teaches them what is found inside that book.
You may receive email from readers, or they may post comments. These are the foundations for articles. Answer the question in-depth in an article instead of by answering the post—the post response can be brief and direct the reader to the article. This helps you avoid a direct argument and control what is discussed about the topic. Otherwise, it’s easy to find yourself becoming defensive and answering only the points they brought up, rather than explaining the answer in a logical, non-defensive manner.
Become a regular reader of the LDS Newsroom. Here, the church often answers complex questions. As Elder Ballard points out, studying how they approach these issues can teach you how to approach them yourself. You’ll notice, as you analyze their approach, they never go on the defensive or argue. They simply teach the doctrines of God’s kingdom without apology or hesitation.
When you’re deciding how to approach a gospel topic, or even choosing which one to write on, stop and look at your favorite picture of the Savior. What would He choose and how would He approach it?
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.