Author Archive

10 A Day

WhatsApp Image 2019-07-26 at 4.54.11 PM             The 10 a day project is meant to strengthen the prayer life of our youth and also help shape the our future. The program is meant to make our platform the best social media platform that turn to direct the spiritual well being of our youth. The platform and the 10 a Day program will see to members posting prayer request and testimonies on the platform to be attended to.  The theme of the project is “Let’s Pray Let’s Share”. The program will also make members form prayer groups to pray with and share prayer requests with themselves. This program will also come to help promote the 777 prayer program by the church. The main reason for this 10 A Day program if the make members see the need to share prayer requests and testimonies on the platform. Inviting ten friends to sign up will not only increase our number of subscribers but make subscribers stick with us. Their friends are here and sharing the same interest and experience will make them want to stay on the platform not wanting to go out. When someone sees a prayer request on as a message or post the receiver or reader will reply or comment on it giving the requester an assurance the requests are being addressed. It breeds faith and trust in God and that the person who commented on the prayer request will have to pray over the requests. Some might not comment but pray over the prayer request. Through this we will have a Television and a radio program called “Prayer Net” which will have the host of the program invite guests on the show to pray over prayer requests on the platform. The program will categorize all these prayers and guests will pray on them. There will also be a phone in segment where people will phone in and the hosts pray with them. We will also have prayer topics to discuss on how the build and exercise a believers’ faith. We will also look at promises in the Bible and how to capitalize on these promises of the Bible in prayer. Ones we pray we sure will have our prayers answered and so will have a segment on the program to read testimonies on the platform and also from callers.     WhatsApp Image 2019-07-26 at 4.54.10 PM

The 250 Evangelism Ideas

The 250 Evangelism Ideas
  The 250 Evangelism Ideas For Your Campus is a tremendous resource, consisting of ideas that college students have used to reach out to their classmates.  Many of the ideas can easily be adapted to use with high school students.  To order this $12 book, call 1-800-827-2788 or visit www.campuscrusade.org. The following are some of the great ideas in the book, adjusted slightly so that you could use them to reach high school students. Several of the ideas are pre-evangelistic, but they could easily be adapted to include a presentation of the gospel.  If you’d like to discuss how to adapt one of these outreaches to fit the interests of students at your school, call and talk to a coach at The Coaching Center at 1-877-gocampus (1-877-462-2678).  For further details on how to plan an outreach, search for the article called “Planning and Conducting an Outreach” at www.gocampus.org. To make these ideas easy to find in the book, corresponding numbers are included. MOVIES/MEDIA #218 The Damah Film Festival: This organization has films with themes such as grace, God’s sovereignty, misconceptions of Jesus, favor with God, the need to worship something, and many other topics that lead to further discussion about life and God.  These short films provide the starting point for you to facilitate group discussions.  In addition, the “Damah Touring Festival” could come to your school. The films are not perceived as Christian so you could ask your school to sponsor the “Tour.”  At the end of the school day, your ministry could host a party for further discussion, where student leaders could share the gospel and share testimonies of their own spiritual journeys.  Discussion starter ideas can be found at wvucru.com/fla/lifeatlarge.swf For information on the films, visit www.damah.com. GUYS ONLY # 164  At The University of Florida, students hosted an all-nighter centered around basketball tournaments and competitions. A talk was given on real manhood and David from the Bible.  Someone could share a testimony around this topic and the gospel. GIRLS ONLY # 166 or 168 Host a party for girls and discuss the topic of real beauty and the problem of eating disorders. To help girls understand God’s love for them and how He views them, bring in a speaker like Former Miss Arizona, Stacey Kole, or nationally known speaker and author, Nancy Wilson.  Your school might even pay to have these ladies come and speak at an assembly at your school.  You could host a party after school, like a spa party for example, and have the speaker share the gospel.  To bring in Nancy Wilson, author of  In Pursuit of the Ideal, see www.nancywilson.org.  For information on Stacey Kole’s speaking topics, visit www.staceykole.com. To learn how to bring her to your school, visit www.koleproductions.com. REACHING FRESHMEN #127   Invite freshmen to an ice-cream social (hosted by your club or by a group of Christian friends).  The college students that did this outreach included a plastic spoon with the invitations they handed out. To make this event evangelistic, have three or four upperclassmen talk for three to five minutes each on how to make the most of high school.  One of them should share their testimony, explaining how knowing God helps us to make wise choices now and for our future.  The others could cover areas such as “how to succeed in high school relationally” (ideas on wise dating, purity) and “how to succeed in high school academically” (maybe giving a few study techniques).  There is a great book available through www.campuscrusade.org or at 1-800-729-4351 called How To Get Better Grades And Have More Fun that could be a door prize. #112 Do Freshmen Surveys with all the freshmen.  Give those you survey an invitation to a party you are having just for freshmen.  Tell them about Student Venture (or your Christian club) at the party, with a student giving their testimony.  Let them know how your group can be a resource to them.  Use comment cards so you know who’d like to know more about your group and/or a relationship with God. See www.gocampus.org for comment cards and surveys. SENIORS # 128   To help students prepare for college, you could host a college prep seminar inviting Christian college graduates to come back and teach about college life.  At www.collegeprep.org, there is a great program that uses multi-media and humor to help high school students understand the realities of college.  At the outreach, have one of the college students share how Christ is guiding his or her life and purpose.  Share the gospel and invite students to receive Christ. HOLIDAYS #180  (For girls) Host a Christmas tea or party to talk about the true meaning of Christmas.  People can share their favorite Christmas traditions, and someone can share the gospel, explaining that Jesus is our greatest gift.  See www.gocampus.org  for articles on Christmas outreaches and pre-written messages you could give at the outreach. #117 At Christmas or Easter, distribute the article “Is There a God?” to five or ten of your closest non-Christian friends and then ask them to meet back for coffee to tell you what they thought of the article. You could ask them four simple questions to help guide your conversation. See www.gocampus.org for the article and &ldquoTurning the Conversation to Christ”. There are many great holiday outreach ideas in The 250 book, covering St. Patrick’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Christmas, and Thanksgiving.  See pages 75-79.   URBAN OUTREACH IDEAS #85 Try what the students at Morgan State in Baltimore did to reach their friends.  They gave step performances and then shared the gospel. #86 How about hosting a talent show with an open mic time, including evangelistic poetry and rap?  Students at George Mason found this to be a great outreach. #87 A 3-on-3 Basketball tournament was held for students at Mississippi State.  Every applicant received a package with candy, soda, and the book More than a Carpenter, by Josh McDowell.  To reach your school, you could also bring in a Christian speaker, maybe a graduate of your school who played college basketball, to give their testimony and the gospel. #88 HipHopalypse was an event planned by students at Syracuse University where Christian rap acts performed.  One of the rappers shared his testimony and the gospel. FREE GIVE AWAYS # 91 At UCLA, students advertised that they would give out a free drink, called Boba, to students who attended their weekly Christian meeting one week.  Boba is a tapioca milk tea, very popular among Asians.  Over 100 students attended their weekly meeting.  You could adapt this and give out something you think students might enjoy, such as pizza or something more specific to a certain group. One idea is distributing the book How to get Better Grades And Have More Fun, by Steve Douglas, to National Honor Society students.  Call 1-800-729-4351 to order this book. SERVICE GROUPS #131 Students can build relationships and collect community service points all at the same time.  Have students invite other clubs or groups of friends to do a meaningful service project together.  Encourage students to pray for these friends, asking God for open doors to talk about Him.  See “Meeting and Relating to Students” and “Turning the Conversation to Christ” for good questions to ask students about life and to help start spiritual conversations. HANDLING TRAGEDY #176  At Indiana University, students hosted a coffee house, and a mother came to share her experience in dealing with tragedy.  They provided free desserts and Starbucks coffee.  As you try this outreach, remember that the gospel can easily be shared by talking about real hope in a world where difficult things happen. DIVERSE GROUPS #152   Host a World’s Religion’s Panel.  University of Oklahoma students invited a Hindu, Muslim, and Jewish student to be on a panel with a Christian.  Four specific questions were asked of all four groups to help the listeners learn about each religion.  After the students shared their views, a catered dinner was provided for those in attendance.  A list of questions was provided to help guide their discussion on the topic of world religions. Christian students were trained ahead of time on how to lead the conversations and help explain Christianity. The students aimed to begin building relationships with these students of other faiths in order to further share the gospel in the future. #135   Bob Blackford, a national speaker, gave his testimony at Central Washington University on how he contracted HIV through homosexuality.  Bob shared how God set him free from the homosexual lifestyle.  Why not ask your school if you can have him as a guest speaker, especially if you have a day like “Gay Day” at school (this is happening in some schools)?  Or you could just have an optional after school event with Bob as your speaker. There would be cost involved, but the school sometimes will pay for an assembly speaker. #137 How do Christianity and science relate?  Try hosting an assembly or evening program with a speaker like Fritz Schaeffer who does a program called “Christianity and Science: Friend or Foe.”  Use comment cards and surveys to follow up with those who attend to discover their interest in knowing Jesus. (Contact information for Fritz Schaeffer will be available on www.gocampus.org soon). Remember, there are many more ideas in the book The 250 Evangelism Ideas For Your Campus.  As you can tell, some are easier to do than others, but all can be adapted to fit your needs.  In addition, the book has a list of more great speakers and programs to bring to your school.  

Shawn Shawn Basone  She has served with Campus Crusade for over 19 years in youth ministry

#GlobalYouth Day is March 18, 2017

With the support of GC Administration, the 13 Division youth directors, MENA Union and the Israel field, “Global Youth Day” was launched on March 13, 2013. The vision of GYD is to recapture the reality of Adventist youth as a global movement mobilized for service, contributing to the proclamation of the everlasting gospel and ushering in the second coming of Jesus Christ. There is a lot more to religious faith than simply going to church and listening to sermons. The true practice of religion involves the revelation of God’s love in living out Jesus’s gospel commission as He bade us to before He ascended to heaven: through all manners of selfless acts that point a desperately needy world to the ultimate hope of the better world He has made possible for us. Grounded in the concluding words of Jesus in the parable of the Good Samaritan, “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10:25-37), the theme of the Global Youth Day is “Be the sermon.”

GYD 2017 Promo

After seeing all the news reports, testimony videos, and worldwide activity from more than 150 countries on GYD 2016, we know God has been ministering to those in need through our tireless young people committed to being the hands and feet of Jesus—literally. Seeing how His power moved through the streets of our communities last year means we can only imagine what He’ll do this year! Make big plans and share them with the world. Remember to download the app so we can see you on the map. To view the iPhone app, click here. To view the Android app, click here. The activity you share through the app on March 19th will pop up on the Global Youth Day homepage map right here.  
 

Street evangelism in six steps

One of the most challenging evangelistic endeavors is what I call street evangelism. This is the approaching of total strangers for the purpose of explaining the gospel to them. When many people think of evangelism, this is often precisely what they have in mind—and they are intimidated by it. This kind of evangelism may be intimidating, but it also rewarding. There are people who exist outside of the sphere of Christian influence, and unless they hear the gospel from a stranger, they are likely not going to hear it at all. Many encounters are with people completely outside of the faith, unfamiliar with Christianesse, and ignorant of the basics of the gospel (ie., Jesus died in the place of sinners). But that is exactly why this kind of evangelism is exhilarating. I never know who I am going to talk to. Is this person a Catholic? An agnostic? A self-righteous sinner, living on moralism? This mystery is exactly what makes cold evangelism compelling and intimidating.Here are a few steps to help you get underway: 1. Choose a location. The more people the better, because there are more opportunities, and because it is less weird. My favorite place for this kind of evangelism is on college campuses. Students often have free time, and are often open to talking about the gospel. Grace Church has groups that go out to hospitals, outdoor malls, and subway—all places near our church where lots of people congregate. We stay near our church because we often invite people to our church. 2. Start the conversation. This is the hardest part. I’m not a fan of gimmicks, but I go straight for the chase; I usually begin by introducing myself as a pastor from a church in the area. I’ll ask if they are familiar with the Bible, my church, or what it is that Christians believe. I’ll ask if they have even been to my church, or what they think of the gospel. Essentially I’m looking for some bridge to start the conversation. 3. Ask questions. I ask a lot of questions. One of the most helpful books I’ve read on this kind of evangelism is Randy Newman’s Questioning Evangelism, where he makes the simple point the more questions you ask, the more information you get. The better you get to know the person you are talking to, the more skillfully you can explain the gospel to him. I ask tons of why questions: “Why did you take that job?” “Why did you choose that major?” “Why do you think that way about church?” The more I ask, the more they talk, and the more likely they will be to listen when I explain the gospel. 4. Make the jump to the gospel. Unlike relational evangelism (with friends, co-workers, neighbors, etc.) cold evangelism is a one-shot deal. Eventually you have to make the jump to the gospel. I have found that asking if I can explain what the Bible says about an issue helps. “You said you want to help people with your life; can I explain what the Bible says about that?” “You said that church offends you because Christians are hypocrites; can I tell you what the Bible says about that?” 5. Explain the gospel. I take any question they ask—from why do Christians not believe in evolution, to what about the crusades—and answer with the gospel. A short gospel presentation includes who God is (creator and holy), who people are (sinful and in need of a savior), who Jesus is (God in flesh, sinless, substitute for sinners, who rose from the grave), and what we must do in response (turn from sin and believe the gospel in faith). I look for any opportunity in the conversation to get to the gospel, and when I am there, I move quickly. I can explain those points briefly in one minute, and then circle back to explain each one more if the opportunity is there. 6. End the conversation. After explaining the gospel, I ask if the person has any questions. I ask if I can pray for them, if I can give them a tract that explains more, and if they want to talk more sometime in the future. I invite the person to church, and give him my contact info. Occasionally I have had people contact me months later, wanting to learn more about Jesus. I don’t think all Christians are called to this kind of evangelism, but I think all Christians should at least try it and see if they are gifted at it. It is amazing to see how the Lord uses these encounters to open doors for the gospel, and to strengthen our own understanding of the basic tenets of what we believe. How about you? Share a tip or two that you would add, or a question about this kind of evangelism.

10 Ways to Evangelize on Facebook

Admit it, whether you are young or old Facebook is probably a (sometimes large) part of your life. With hundreds of millions of people on the social network, shouldn’t Christians use it as an evangelism tool? Adventist Youth Network enlisted some of our Facebook friends to help us compile this list of the top 10 ways people use Facebook for evangelism. You can join the fun and become a fan of our Facebook page by going to facebook.com/aynetthree 1) Share your testimony. Tell people what having a relationship with God means to you. Using too much “Christianese” turns people off. Keep it simple. -Dan Rosselli   2) Be positive.  Try to make sure your status updates are positive. Post things or people that you’re thankful for. Or even name some of the ways that you’ve been blessed recently. “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it. Positivity, like negativity, is contagious.” -Stacey Steinkopf Lillich   3) Let the Word talk. A good idea is to post encouraging Scripture verses. “I had a friend whom I had not seen in years and who is not a practicing Christian, message me [to say] that the Scriptures I post really spoke to her. She [is now] trying out a new church! Hallelujah!” -Tonya Sullivan Hanselman   4) Get out of your friend walls.  Go out of your way to find old classmates or colleagues and friend them. Then you can start building relationships and share the love of Christ. -Felicia Mann   5) Make it personal.  Develop a rapport with someone, show them you care for them and then you can lead them to Christ. -Jeanette Rose Jacono   6) Give thanks. Try daily to show your thankfulness to the Lord. Post His Word to give hope, peace and encouragement to your friends on Facebook. -Carol Taft-Adamczyk   7) Watch your posts.  Pray for people on Facebook, share your testimony and even post devotionals. -Clyde Lane   8) Show that you care. Don’t post overtly religious snippets. Posters seem to forget that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Start using FB to convince people that they matter. -Larry Walker   9) Offer prayers for healing. Pray for anyone who posts a need or a sickness. “I pray with them right there through Facebook. I type the prayer out as if I were laying hands on them.” -Tonya Sullivan Hanselman   10) Keep it real. Last but not least, humble yourself and be honest. Don’t try to be someone you aren’t. Always show a Christ-like image as you live, learn, laugh and post. -Laura L. Townsend Lesko

Facebook and Evangelism

Is this our biggest digital opportunity?

After several years of rapid growth, Facebook passed 800 million users in 2011. This represents 1 in 3 of all web users (if you exclude China where Facebook is banned). If we compare Facebook users with country populations, it is the third largest ‘country’ in the world.

USA and UK have long been the #1 and #2 in terms of number of Facebook users. Until recently, highly-wired Turkey was #3, but Indonesia has shot up the rankings and is now third, pushing Turkey to fourth position. The Facebook interface is available in approaching 100 languages with more on the way. Many people spend at least half their online time using Facebook, and this includes people accessing Facebook via mobile phones.

The new ‘web within the Web’

Companies are realizing that Facebook is where many web users spend the majority of their time (as this short story illustrates), and are falling over themselves to develop content which will integrate directly into Facebook, which itself is rapidly rolling out new features to enhance this sort of usability. Expect to see further similar developments in the future as Facebook is almost turning into a standalone ‘web inside the Web’. Increasingly, companies are advertising their Facebook Fan Page rather than their own websites, as the landing page they want people to see first. Most other social networking sites (with the exception of some national or regional non-English networks) have receded into smaller specialist niches. Bebo and MySpace are struggling. Just as there is only room for one definitive search engine (Google) or one auction/market site (eBay), people gravitate to the one social networking site where they know they can contact almost anyone. However, these guidelines apply to most other social networking sites too.

Why is it so strategic for evangelism?

Because:
  • Anyone can set up an account in seconds; no tech knowledge is needed (though there are aspects of Facebook that are rather quirky and hard to use).
  • It is based on relationships and dialogue – the key to effective sharing of the good news.
  • Your comments and postings are displayed on friends’ pages.
  • You can create or join ‘Fan Pages’ and ‘Groups’ built around secular topics, and therefore relate to others within a common interest (1 Cor. 9:19-23).
  • It can leverage the power of other online resources such as video clips and outreach websites.

Opportunities on Facebook

There are two overlapping approaches: incarnational and intentional active outreach. However, what you cannot expect Facebook to be is a linear platform for a message, as this wise explanation from Tom Ehrich shows. If you imagine Facebook to be a ‘pulpit for preaching’, you are wasting your time and likely to upset a lot of people. If you understand it to be a ‘cafe for conversation’, you will be in tune with its heartbeat.
  • Live our lives openly and transparently in front of our friends as we do in the physical world, demonstrating unconditional love and the fragrance spoken of in 2 Cor. 2:15.
  • You can respond to other people’s postings with appropriate on-topic comments, sometimes including links to appropriate pages or video clips. Keep a portofolio list of pages and video clips ready to use. Consider inner pages from Power to Change – often one of their internal pages will relate to a specific topic you are commenting on: it also includes areas for menwomen and students. Always do this in a sensitive and gentle way (1 Peter 3:15).
  • If many of your friends live within your local community, it may be appropriate from time to time to mention activities at your church, as this video explains.
  • You can upload your own video shorts into the video section of your Facebook profile, or post a link to a YouTube video in the same way as adding a hyperlink to any posting – a clickable thumbnail graphic will be automatically displayed. Short video clips a useful way to start discussions, especially if you link to conversation-starting videos rather than preachy ‘deal-closing’ presentations.
  • Another fruitful area for conversations is popular culture – movie releases, music and books. Almost everyone is interested in talking about the latest films or music, and remarkably they frequently contain embedded parallels that point to spiritual truths.
  • Create or join Fan Pages or Groups on topics that interest not-yet-believers and you, and participate sensitively. Look especially at Groups, because these are designed for ongoing member interaction, and are superseding the email discussion groups and bulletin boards that used to be so popular. There are vast numbers of Groups, some of them with very high membership. Use Facebook’s search option to find them. Is there, for instance, a Group covering a sport you are interested in, or a life problem or illness that you suffer with? Choose Groups with sufficient members to maintain an interesting ongoing conversation.
  • Other intentional pro-active opportunities include making contact with friends of friends, and inviting people to join Fan Pages or Groups you are a member of.
  • There are very few add-on ‘Applications’ that enable us to add gently evangelistic areas to a Facebook page – here is an opportunity for developers. Read more about ‘Applications’ and those that could be evangelistic.
  • Learning Facebook’s markup language enables additional features to be added to a page.
  • Facebook offers particular opportunities for mission agencies and cross-cultural witness: read more.
  • Churches should consider the potential for creating a Fan Page: read more. A church Fan Page, like a normal church site, should be outsider-friendly (1 Col. 4:5) and jargon-free. Here are some useful examples.
  • Many church youth groups conduct all their discussion and news distribution through a Facebook Group, because it’s so easy where 100% of young people have Facebook accounts.

Things to avoid

  • If you are in the sort of ministry where most of your Facebook friends are Christian leaders, it may be wise to consider having a separate Facebook profile, so that postings will not be off-putting or incomprehensible for not-yet-Christians. Read Mikey Lynch’s explanation of this principle. (See ideas for varying profile names. To save constant logging in and out, use a different browser such as Chrome for your second profile, which should be linked with a different email address to your first profile.) Always use this ‘secular’ profile when setting up, or contributing to secular-oriented Fan Pages or Groups.
  • Steer away from politics and social issues: any view you express on these is likely to alienate at least half your page visitors. Consider not entering anything (or at least, anything referencing a party or partisan viewpoint) in the ‘political views’ section of your profile either. This brings to mind the note, supposedly written by a family to the milk-man in the days when milk was delivered to the community from a cart with open containers: “Thank you for your excellent service. But please could you deliver the milk and the water in separate jugs in future.”
  • Under religious views on their Facebook profile, many people enter something like ‘Jesus follower’ or ‘seeker after truth’ rather than the increasingly pejorative ‘Christian’ or some denominational label.
  • Don’t treat people as ‘gospel fodder’. Build unconditional relationships with respect and tolerance. Use integrity. It’s dialogue, not preaching. “The focus should be on building authentic relationships. Without it, not only do you run the risk of not being effective, but also in ruining any chance that other Christians might have,” says Dan King of Bibledude.com. “That’s why the most important thing that you can understand about social media is that it’s social in nature.”
  • People will quickly see through insincerity and mixed motives. Cat owners know well the conditional affection shown by their pets when they want feeding: cupboard love. Facebook users will be less tolerant. They will quickly discern that you view them as ‘a project’ rather than a person.
  • Some stategists have named inappropriate, strident, argumentative, manipulative or impersonal attempts to convince people of the truth with the chilling term un-evangelism.
  • Avoid Chistrianese jargon. Express truths in alternate neutral language.
  • Dont’t spend too much time on Facebook, or not use that time effectively. Read Top 9 Facebook Time Wasters to Avoid.

Learn the system

  • Facebook is not always very intuitive to use or edit. It takes time to understand even the privacy settings and their implications. Realise that what you see on your Facebook page is not what visitors see: try viewing your page using a Facebook friend’s profile, and through the profile of someone who is not your friend, to see the differences.
  • Various Facebook ‘applications’ can be used to extend what is displayed on your page. Some applications can be quirky to install, and there is only room for a few extra links on the horizontal top menu. (Adding applications to Fan Pages or Groups can be very complicated, counter-intuitive, and in some cases impossible. Yet other applications, such as Static FBML, only work on Fan Pages!) Read more.
  • You can syndicate blog postings so they automatically appear on your page, by registering your blog with NetworkedBlogs.com. (It is quirky but possible to get NetworkedBlogs to display on a Fan Page, and there are some applications which do not currently work within Fan Pages.) Only do this if the blog postings are seeker-friendly though.
  • You can also learn how to use the Facebook Markup Language (FBML) to integrate other features into your Facebook Fan Page.
  • There are daily limits on the number of people you can invite to be friends, and a very low limit on the number of messages you can send to non-friends. Such ‘cold-calling’ should be done with particular sensitivity.
  • Use Google to find advice on all these areas – Facebook’s own documentation is often patchy. Some things you may find out by trial and error, for instance: you can only invite limited numbers of friends to a Fan Page at a time or the procedure fails, and that if their picture ceases to be ‘grayed out’ after you have done this, it means they have rejected (rather than ignored) the request, so do not send it again as it looks like you are spamming them.

Posting video clips

One-click sharing of conversation-starting video clips has huge potential. YesHEIs.com offers a growing range of clips in various languages, precisely for this purpose. Global Short Film Network also produces vide shorts that can be used in Facebook, downloaded to mobile phones, or shared in other ways.

Social Media: The Latest Evangelism Tool

Imagine the miles Saint Paul could have shaved off his sandals if he had owned a mobile device with built-in Wi-Fi. Nearly 2,000 years after Jesus commanded followers to go into all the world and make disciples, an increasing number of gospel messengers are doing their missionary travels by way of social media. It is the latest trend: build a website by which, with the push of a button or click of a mouse, spiritual seekers from around the globe can hear and read about how to begin a personal relationship with Christ. “We can spend how many millions of dollars to try to sneak someone into a country, and how many get led to Christ? Very few,” said John Essig, a pastor at Fellowship Church in Springfield, Ohio, who serves as part-time Ohio Director at Global Media Outreach, one of numerous international ministries with a goal of reaching the lost through the Internet. “But by [them] having a cell phone you’re going to reach those who can’t otherwise get a missionary to come to them,” Essig said, adding that online/mobile outreach is effective in large part because it relies on response, not targeting. “We know they’re seeking us, so there is not as much opposition,” he said, pausing. “It is amazing how God will find a way to find that lost person.” The numbers reported by GMO are staggering. “From 350,000 to two million people a day will read the gospel message, with about 15 percent of those clicking a button at the bottom of the page telling us they just gave their life to Christ,” Essig said, explaining that GMO’s vision is to give every person on earth multiple opportunities to hear about Jesus, with the goal of the Great Commission being fulfilled by 2020. “How do you do that?” Essig said. Easy. Just “click for Christ.” Those who do will receive from GMO an email that includes a note of encouragement and applicable Bible verse with a link to discipleship opportunities. From there, one of GMO’s online missionaries connects with the seeker for what hopefully becomes more than a short-term discipling relationship. “We’re not trying to replace the church,” Essig said. “But the idea is to get to them while they’re young [in the Lord] and feed them with the word so they can grow.” Essig said studies show that those who commit to Christ via the Web read their Bible more often than the average American Christian and also more often share their faith, “which shows a genuine experience with Christ.” One such GMO study reported that half of people who made a decision for Jesus over the Internet have subsequently shared their faith with others. Of the more than 100,000 surveyed around the world, 51 percent said they shared their faith three times or more and 37 percent said they shared their faith at least once or twice. Some critics, however, wonder just how genuine that sharing experience can be if it takes place via satellites and cell towers. Those leery of social media evangelism and discipleship say a huge difference exists between growing in Christ via Facebook and using a face-to-face/by-the-book approach to relationship spiritual development. Cynthia Ware, a noted Christian technology expert, cautions against turning evangelism/discipleship into a cast-the-nets exercise, because often those nets have holes. “With the Internet, the gospel can be effective in a peer-to-peer way,” said Ware, adding that many of the social media outreach ministries she encounters are more about appealing more to the masses than the individual. “It sounds like a broadcast modality,” she said. “It is the same mindset people took to broadcast media before the Internet. I think the Web should be used by Christians not so much for broadcasting but for listening. People are looking for answers … and you have to take on a more conversational tone rather than spouting a message as someone might do on the street corner in 1900.” That is not to say Ware is opposed to mixing social media with Christianity. “How it can become something [effective] is if people go in with a predetermined idea of how to evangelize,” she said, citing the example of how her sister posted her adoption story online. “The goal was not her story, but to see how many other like-minded people would show interest, so she could engage in the gospel with them,” Ware said. “The key is finding common ground, then letting Christianity spread by its very nature.” That method, however, takes more time to reach more people, a luxury the unsaved world may not have, according to some online evangelistic ministries. Plus, connecting by cell phone or home computer can be done in a personal, one-on-one manner that makes the seeker feel cared for, Essig said. “Our system will generate a template for us, and we’ll guide them through it,” he said. “They may say, ‘I’m having doubts.’ Or their marriage is breaking up or they are depressed, so we send them to a spot on the site that meets their immediate needs.” Finding sites that share the gospel is not a problem; dozens if not hundreds exist; but finding a specific site can be challenging, which gets to the financial end of Internet sites. The more money a ministry spends with a search engine, the higher its site moves to the top of the page where more seekers will see it. For example, type “Jesus Christ” into Google and the first entry might be a Wikipedia article. Click Google again and a Catholic Encyclopedia reference site might pop up on top. It all depends on the contract terms between the search engine company and the site owner. “It is bizarre reality that the more money GMO spends to promote its [125 different] sites the more people come to Christ,” Essig said, adding that Godlife.com is GMO’s most popular site. “When we spend $120,000 we can get more hits. If we don’t spend, people will go to other sites. That doesn’t mean you can’t go to other sites and give your life to Christ, but there may not be the follow-up. PeaceWithGod.net (affiliated with Billy Graham) does a great job. GMO does not have to be the only fulfillers of the Great Commission. The big-picture thought is there is a huge wave of people (online) giving their lives to Christ right now.” Essig said there are elements of Internet evangelism that still need to be fine-tuned, including working with language barriers. Many Internet ministries offer different sites in multiple languages. Then there is the general skepticism that stretches from one side of the world to the other. “A big concern everyone has is ‘Is this real?’ Despite the giant numbers, is this really happening? The other suspicion is, ‘How are you going to reach people who don’t have a desktop computer or electricity?’ But GMO is in the early stages of developing its own cell phone that is solar powered, which will have applications in it.” Some might see such technology as tearing at the essence of personal, “human touch” evangelism and discipleship. Essig does not. He turns to the Bible (Habakkuk 1:15) for assurance that God’s wonders have no limit: “Look among the nations, and see; wonder and be astounded. For I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told.” Robert Wayne is a contributing writer for Crosswalk.com.

Social Media and Evangelism

The social media is the fastest tool of communication in human history. It has changed the way people interact so much: tweeting, blogging, texting, live chatting, posting on Facebook and other social networks, sharing their views and opinions with the world. They share their minds instantly. Social media gives you the opportunity to make new connections online. The world lies at your fingertips. You can reach out to a large number of users. Statistics show that the total number of Facebook users worldwide is 1.2 billion and that 98 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds use social media.1

What is social media?

Social media “provides a way for people to share ideas, content, thoughts, and relationships online. Social media differs from the ‘mainstream media’ in that anyone can create, comment on, and add to social media content. It can take the form of text, audio, video, images, and communities.”2 It is “participatory online media where news, photos, videos, and podcasts are made public; typically accompanied with a voting process to signal items considered popular.”3 Here are some social media statistics:
  • Three out of four people use social networks regularly.
  • Social media has overtaken email as the number one activity on the Web.
  • There are over 200 million blogs.
  • Every day sees some 900,000 blog posts.
  • Ninety-three percent of social media users believe companies should have a presence in social media.
The first years of the Internet revolution were all about getting computers connected to the World Wide Web. The following years have been all about getting people connected to one another. Social media communication tools have profoundly changed our lives, especially how we interact with one another and the world around us. Here are the top areas in which it has affected our daily lives: 1. Source of information. Friends on social media are increasingly becoming people’s trusted sources of information, even more than search engines. Furthermore, by getting your news from social media, you know who is recommending it and can easily communicate with that person about it. News is more social than ever. 2. Launching a business. While business in the past was generally conducted with those in one’s immediate  environment, social media—everything from blogging to tweeting, to posting videos on YouTube—has opened new possibilities for both customers and clients. Who we do business with and how we promote that business has moved increasingly online, and for small businesses especially, social media has proved invaluable. 3. Connecting with people. Social media helps find and maintain both old and potentially new friendships. 4. Place for authenticity. The goal used to be to make sure that we always appeared to be in complete control; but this is shifting, in part, because of social media. The paradigm is now no longer to try to appear perfect but to be more transparent with your thoughts and feelings, to reveal your humanness. 5. Power to influence. Even if we have few followers on Twitter or friends on Facebook or subscribers to our blog, the average person’s influence increases as communication channels become more open and fluid. As the networks for sharing and amplifying information strengthen, so does the ability of each person to influence public opinion and policies. As a result, we feel much less like passive bystanders and much more like participants who have a voice in the events of our world. “The Internet has brought media to a global audience. The Web has opened a tremendous opportunity to reach a great number of participants directly with targeted messages.”4

Benefits

Let me share some of the benefits of social networking: 1. Tolerance. Networks are good for handling diversity. Behind our screen we can be any color, any nationality, without the fear of not being accepted. 2. Friendship. Networks are about connections of nodes. I have a friend who knows a friend who could recommend you for his company. Usually it goes that way, for we get connected to each other very easily and there are no limitations or lack of trust. 3. Change. Networks are so versatile that everything can still operate effectively whether on a large scale or for smaller, close-knit groups. 4. Communal. Groups are created so that people join and feel welcome in a community. 5. Equal, small versus big. For example Amazon.com vs. Waterstones. The latter is probably the biggest and most well-known bookstore in the United Kingdom and Europe at large. At one stage, nobody thought anything could surpass its size and reputation; especially not Amazon.com, which started offline on a much smaller scale. Now Amazon has become a multinational sensation. With social networking, both types of businesses can be put on the same footing. 6. Fair. In previous years, the television producers and radio executives decided what featured in the media. However, there has now been a redistribution of power; not only does the average person sitting at home get to have a say in what they experience in the media, but they also have the chance to actually participate. 7. Open. Those who are ready for experimentation are able to do so freely. They can reach other users open to new things around the globe. This is how simple “home videos” end up having a few million viewers on sites such as YouTube. 8. Authentic. Everyone has his or her own identity; no two “profiles” or   blogs are ever exactly the same. People can express their individuality through personal touches, without the restrictions of conformity. 9. Global. There are no borders or obstacles in connecting. 10. Participator. Using their own online ID, everyone can participate in any discussion. 11. Seekers. The new rule of the information age: if you don’t, someone else will.

Challenges

Social networking is not all positive. There are challenges of which to be aware: 1. Internet addictions. The most common and dangerous addiction is pornography. Other dangers include Facebook, games, gambling, and many more addictions. 2. Less contact with family members. People on social networks feel that they socialize enough on the Internet and seem to reduce the time they spend socializing offline, particularly with family members. As a result, they become less interested in family life and tend to lose contact. 3. Feelings of loneliness and depression. Research shows that people who are spending more time on the Internet are more depressed and lonely. They lose sight of living in the real world. 4. Less active in social life. People who spend more time on the Internet lose the will to get out and actively socialize. 5. Exposure to sexually explicit material. Sexually explicit material can be found everywhere on the Internet. Even accessing a simple Web site for information, whether it be for work or general research, exposes you to endless sex advertising pop-ups. 6. Online victimization. Piracy is one example of online victimization. Hackers can also do a lot of harm to Internet users. 7. Fluidity of the virtual identity. People can present themselves in an entirely different way from what they are really like by using a false identity.

Steps to social media success

Here are four simple steps to social media success: 1. Find interested people. Peer recommendation is the strongest type of marketing today. So, if you find people who are interested, that means they will bring even more. 2. Deliver quality content. Content is king. Good quality content on sites and social media is essential. Content has to be fresh and delivered regularly. 3. Capture information. Paying attention to every single detail will help capture the information. 4. Stay in touch. Last but not least, stay in touch with the people who came or were brought to you. A community is created when a group of people gathers; staying in touch will help you find new challenges, ideas, and relationships with the world at large.

Social media and evangelism

Social media evangelism is the new frontline of evangelism, based on Christ’s method to mingle with people where they are, sympathize with them, meet their needs, and invite them to follow Jesus.5 Jesus’ method of spreading the gospel was through discipleship. We want to embody this method at all times in our Internet ministry. Digital missionaries should see the contacts they make as potential discipleship opportunities and the country Web pastor should certainly treat every visitor as a disciple in the making. Discipleship on the Web looks just like discipleship on the ground. If we follow Christ’s method of reaching people, we can see that He spent time with people and wanted the best for them. He sympathized with what they were dealing with, and wherever possible, He met their needs. All of these factors gained the confidence of the people He was interacting with, and only after this happened would He then invite them to follow Him.6 Based on this method, here is a social media discipleship pathway: • CONNECT (network) online: social networks, blogs, chat rooms, special interest sites. • SHARE (post) relevant material that meets the needs of people and invite them to visit and explore wholistic life together through videos and articles. • TALK (chat) with your online friends in order to understand their needs, and respond with the relevant messages of hope found in the Bible, and perhaps by sharing your personal story. • MEET (offline) face-to-face to develop trust and confidence in Jesus. • INVITE (follow) Jesus on the journey of spiritual development. Your intention, every step of the way, should be to treat each visitor and contact as a potential disciple. You should take a personal interest in their lives. You cannot expect to disciple 500 to 1,000 people individually, but you can certainly take time to disciple a small group of people and build personal relationships. These personal relationships will form the bonds necessary to create the community that brings people back time and time again to your social media evangelism network. This network goes beyond mere digital relationships. Ultimately every disciple you create will become a real member, in a real church, somewhere in his or her local community. This is the goal of social media evangelism: digital connections with real disciples, leading to new membership in real churches.

Digital missionaries

Who can be a digital missionary (DM)? Anyone. The main requirement for any DM is their excitement about using the Internet as a way to reach out to unchurched people in their language, in local communities, and around the world. DMs are perhaps the most important players in this effort—without them, this project would be unable to move forward. The DM’s task will branch out in several different directions. The role of DMs includes communicating with the Web pastor (WP) to help them in delivering good content and promoting the site. They will be active on the site, post materials, post comments, invite people, and interact with them. Facebook will be the predominant marketing tool. Through different groups and pages, they will talk with and invite people to visit and join their network.

Web pastors

Every WP will need to translate the site if there is no other particular language. His or her first task after transition will be to find good content, filling all subcategories. The next step is recruiting and training digital missionaries, finding people who are willing to help in delivering good quality content, and promoting the site. Then it comes to networking, which is inviting people to visit the site, welcoming them, and then interacting and talking with them. With the use of Facebook (FB), the WP will be able to promote the site and open a fan page where the WP will interact with their fans on a daily basis. The WP will need to follow strategies and provide a monthly report using Google Analytics for measurable results and also collect interesting stories and testimonies. The WP will look after the DMs in their area, empowering them in the task they have before them. The WP will guide, advise, counsel, and encourage their DMs with weekly communication and interaction. The WP needs to serve as a resource for the DM in answering difficult questions and approaching difficult situations they may face along the way. Perhaps even more importantly, they will serve as a discipleship guide to disciple the DM’s contacts along the way. The WP should be active on their DMs’ blogs and spaces to help establish relationships with the contacts the DMs are making in their area. Now that you have heard about social media evangelism, the benefits it holds, and the challenges that may arise, I challenge you to develop an online community with the aim of creating a place where people can explore life together, share ideas and stories, discuss favorite topics, and be inspired for wholistic growth in their relationship with God.

Books:

Meerman Scott, David. 2011. The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to use News Releases, Blogs, Podcasting, Viral Marketing, and Online Media to Reach Buyers Directly. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Meyerson, Mitch. 2010. Success Secret of the Social Media Marketing Superstars. Entrepreneur Media Inc. White, Ellen G. 1905. Ministry of Healing. Pacific Press Pub. Assn.

Electronic Sources:

Evans, Dave. “What is Social Media.” Social Media Marketing: An Hour a Day, 2012. http://www.readthis.com/index.php/smmhad/part_i_chapter_03 (accessed November 8, 2012). faithHighway e-book. Social Media and the Church, 11. http://www.faithhighway.com/faithHighway-eBooks-for-your-church.php (accessed November 8, 2012). Fitzgerlad, Britney. “Sarah Leary, Nextdoor Social Network Co-Founder, Talks Bill Gates, Startup Advice”, August 2012. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/10/sarah-leary-nextdoor_n_1699094. h t m l ? u t m _ h p _ r e f = s o c i a l-networking (accessed November 8, 2012). Social Networking Statistics, Statistic Brain. http://www.statisticbrain.com/social-networking-statistics (accessed November 12, 2012).

The role of digital and social media in evangelism

  Digital and social media are playing an increasingly important role in evangelism. That role varies across three continuous stages: SOW, REAP, DISCIPLE. At any moment, hundreds of millions of people globally are at each stage in their Christian faith — ranging from a complete lack of interest in Christianity to a mature, growing faith.
  1. SOW — In this stage (which might also be referred to as pre-evangelism), people aren’t actively seeking Jesus. But digital and social media can play a role in influencing the perception of Christianity and creating an environment that fosters openness and curiosity to engage.
  2. REAP — For our purposes, the REAP stage extends from when someone reaches a place where they’re beginning to seek answers, through to a decision to follow Christ. Digital and social media provide a unique and safe environment for people to struggle and question, often in more vulnerable ways because of the perceived anonymity and safety of technology.
  3. DISCIPLE — After someone becomes a believer, the lifelong journey truly begins. Digital and social media can help people connect with a local church, provide resources and connections to deepen in the faith, and provide encouragement and tools to share Christ with others. That completes the circle, looping back to SOW.
Key aspects of digital and social media Here are some of the key roles digital and social media can play in the work of evangelism. Authenticity We should be as Christian online as we are offline, so that our friends know we’re Christians. Even on Facebook. Vulnerability and perceived anonymity  Something deeply psychological happens when someone seeks answers to tough questions using digital or social media. They’re often willing to be far more vulnerable and transparent than they might otherwise be in other settings (in person or on the phone, for example). Our hypothesis is that the keyboard acts as a sort of perceived barrier between us and the world — even if we engage in live chat with another person we don’t even know. (For a fascinating presentation on this phenomenon, see: An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube). Findability Google has changed our world fundamentally. It may have started as an easy way to find information. But when searches take on the form of existential questions — like “Who is Jesus?” — you can see that “Googling” has reached a new level of meaning. This makes findability critical in today’s world. By creating good content and using search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, you can place the Good News seconds away from any search globally. Indirect evangelism Particularly in the SOW stage, it’s critical to note that your content doesn’t need to be explicitly evangelistic. In fact, you could argue that a bulk of the digital and social engagement in the SOW stage should not be overtly evangelistic. Examples of indirect evangelism include a mom blogger with a massive following who doesn’t openly evangelize, but is unapologetically Christian and occasionally posts Christian content. Or the stars of a reality television show who clearly live out their faith in a winsome way. Platforms In the REAP and DISCIPLE stages, platforms provide us with the tools to reach massive numbers of people. Technologies include web pages, chat rooms, instant messaging, videos, curriculum, location and more. Jesus.net is just one example. YesHeIs aggregates content that others can re-post across their various platforms. Open source approach Too many ministries approach technology and tools with a selfish mindset. They look internally to develop proprietary tools and technologies without considering what is available in the marketplace. They don’t share with other ministries. Far too many resources are wasted in continually re-inventing the wheel, rather than collaborating and using existing technology to accomplish goals. Leveraging world news / cultural moments / memes We live in a world where the news of the minute attracts massive attention. Rather than trying to drum up our own attention and interest, we should consider leveraging existing world events and cultural moments to evangelize, particularly in the SOW and REAP stages. For example, after singer Miley Cyrus gave a lewd performance at the MTV Music Awards this year, Focus on the Family chose to respond by blogging from the perspective of a father on their Dad Matters Blog. That single post generated more traffic and attention in one day than the blog typically receives in an entire month. And as a non-evangelistic topic, it gave Focus on the Family the opportunity to introduce a winsome voice into the conversation that points to Jesus. Content Today, quality content is king — it’s core to your success in reaching and influencing people in digital and social media. Christianity is the greatest story ever told. The Bible gives us content on every issue related to the human condition. As wise and creative Christians, we need to be committed to creating and sharing evangelistic content for all three stages: SOW, REAP, DISCIPLE. Lausanne Global Consultation on Media and the Gospel, Brea, California  

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