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Glen A. Bowman Tyler J. Sheppard

Abstract

This qualitative descriptive study explored how college students describe the influence that encountering Christian faith sharing through social media has on their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. Data collection took place through interviews and focus groups followed by thematic analysis of the data, which resulted in six themes. Three themes described the influence on college students’ thoughts and emotions: a) the message contents and delivery methods influence college students’ thoughts and emotions, b) positive or negative influences on their thoughts and emotions can occur based on their perception of the posts, and c) people who practice Christian faith sharing through social media but live a sinful lifestyle negatively influence their thoughts and emotions. Three themes described the corresponding influence on behaviors: a) positive thoughts produce positive interpersonal and spiritual behaviors, b) negative thoughts typically decrease interpersonal interactions but also prompt negative or positive behaviors, and c) thinking changes produce greater behavioral changes than college students typically recognize. Using these findings, Christians could learn to share their faith online more effectively and less offensively.

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Keywords

evangelism, hypocrites, persuasion, social behaviors, social change, social learning theory, social networking sites

Section
Articles