Only five days remain until Internet Evangelism Day, May 7, 2006! Internet Evangelism Day (IED) is a day for Christians educate themselves and strategize within their organizations about how they can better share their faith online throughout the year. The hope is to raise awareness among Christians of the potential for sharing the Gospel online and dramatically increase the number of Christian organizations actively involved in evangelism online.
Last week I wrote about the general purpose of IED, this week I’m going to write about some specific action steps individuals and organizations can discuss and consider when planning their Internet evangelism strategies. Remember, IED, is not a single day where we go online to talk about God; it’s a day to make decisions about how we will use the Internet to share God’s amazing grace with others throughout the next year.
IED Is for Everyone
The types of strategies you consider on IED will depend on two primary things: the number of people in your organization and the technical competency of your people. The bigger the organization, the bigger your goals can be. The more technically competent the people, the greater the options. The great thing about the Internet, however, is that even a single individual can make a difference and even a technical novice has options. In that respect the virtual world is just like the physical world – everyone has the means and opportunity to share the love of God with others.
Even if you’re a 70-year-old grandmother who only recently started using computers, you can be an Internet evangelist. You don’t even have to big hair or a southern drawl. 😉 It’s all about building relationships and naturally communicating what matters to you most, your relationship with God. Here are some options:
- Find a website that deals with a hobby you enjoy and has active forums or chat rooms. It could be anything like cooking, bird watching, music, or gadgets. I love football and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in particular. They have very active forums and I have had a ton of spiritual conversations with people in the off topic forum.
- Find a website with active forums or chat rooms that provides support for people dealing with a struggle you are either going through or have experienced in the past. Again it could be anything like divorce, cancer, depression, or eating disorder. Empathize with and encourage people, share your story, and if people ask you can share advice or your faith with them.
Before you move forward, please become familiar with the right way to communicate your faith in chat rooms and forums. I’ve seen a lot of Christians engage in bad behavior either due to lack of love or ignorance. For example, one of the worst things you can do is what I call “hit and run” evangelism. This is where a Christian will go into a message board they’ve never been before, pop off telling everyone they’re going to hell unless they accept Christ, and then leave. Jesus would never have behaved this way. All it does is push people away. I’ve also seen Christians post political or cultural rants or get into theological arguments with other Christians. There’s a time and place for those conversations, but a secular website is not it.
If you are more of an Internet geek like me, you have some additional options. You can actually create the settings for building relationships and engaging in spiritual conversations.
- If you currently have a website for a Christian ministry, I strongly encourage you to include a page about your spiritual journey and how a person can become a Christian.
- If you currently have a website that is not particularly for a Christian purpose, perhaps a family site, business site, or a hobby site, depending on the situation you might also consider a page about your spiritual journey and how to become a Christian.
- If you have an interest in a hobby or support group and there doesn’t seem be one with a message board for communication among visitors, consider creating your own “bridge site.”
As with the individual strategies, your organization doesn’t have to have a techno-geek or web designer to develop a strategy for Internet evangelism. Here are some options:
- Create an Internet evangelism team. Generally speaking, people share their faith individually online, but regular team meetings are good way to support each other. The team can meet together regularly to celebrate successes, offer encouragement, discuss new ideas, and keep each other engaged.
- Offer Internet evangelism training. Do a seminar periodically to help educate individuals about how to share their faith online. Discuss the do’s and don’t’s like I mentioned above.
- Modify your website to be more seeker-friendly. You’ll find some tips on that in the article How inclusive is your church website? While it’s written for churches, many of the principles apply to any Christian website.
If your organization has one or more website designers, you might consider a team approach to bridge sites where the designer creates one or more new websites and other less technical people moderate the forums and participate in the conversations.
There are tons of other options and ideas, but I’m limited by time and space here. I’d love to hear some of your ideas. What Internet evangelism strategies are you engaged in or considering?
In His Service,