Claremont Graduate University
Liturgy and Worship | Practical Theology | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion | Social Psychology
The Mum effect is the natural human reluctance to share bad news with others, due to a desire to avoid a range of negative consequences, consequences affecting both self and the recipient of the bad news. Although the gospel is good news to those who believe, it may be viewed negatively by those who do not believe. Thus, Christians may be hesitant to share the gospel because of the negative consequences associated with the Mum effect. Because of the anonymity of the internet, social media is often filled with unrestrained criticism of Christianity. This may amplify the perceived negative consequences of sharing the gospel with unbelievers. In light of this cultural evolution, found now in the global north and increasingly present in the global south, Christian leaders can lead more effective ministries by distinguishing between outreach (building relationships in a way that makes the gospel attractive), witnessing (explaining how one has experienced God), and evangelism (sharing all that is necessary to make a decision for Christ), and by ensuring that all three occur in culturally relevant ways, carried out by individuals best equipped to do each, in a way consistent with the New Testament teaching on spiritual gifts. Specifically, outreach and witnessing can be done by all Christians who interact with non-Christians, whereas evangelism may be carried out, both on the individual level and in large groups, by those who are appropriately gifted. By addressing large groups in a more impersonal way, those gifted in evangelism may reduce the negative consequences of the Mum effect and build upon the outreach and witnessing done by others.
© 2014 David R Dunaetz
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
Dunaetz, David, Evangelism, Social Media, and the Mum Effect (April 2019). Evangelical Review of Theology, 43(2), 138-151, 2019, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3385872.