Yahoo! Answers is a place where you can ask real questions and get real answers on any topic. It’s a community-based service where you jump in and share answers to questions you know while other people answer your questions. Topics range from scientific questions with definitive answers like, Why does helium make your voice sound high?” to not-so-serious questions with opinionated answers like, “Who is the best rock guitarist ever?”
How does this relate to trends in Christian communication?
Well, there is a Religion & Spirituality section where people are asking just about every spiritual question imaginable:
- How can I feel God’s presence in my life?
- Do you believe that Jesus Christ’s descendants are among us?
- What do you believe about the afterlife?
In some ways it’s kind of sad the way people are looking to unknown strangers for the answers to life’s deepest questions. But this is the trend in our culture today. Surveys show that people are more likely to believe “someone like me” than an expert or authority figure who may have an agenda. So, this is an opportunity for Christians to present the truth to people who seem to be genuinely seeking truth.
This is not small potatoes either. Last month Yahoo! Answers reached 10 million answers only 5 months after its launch. Additionally, Yahoo! now includes Answers in its regular search results, which gives it a huge audience. Type any of the following questions into yahoo.com and you’ll see Yahoo! Answers in the results:
- Why does God have to be continuously praised?
- Why is Islam such a violent religion?
- How did animals repopulate the world after the “Great Flood”?
When you head over to Yahoo! Answers, here are a few words of advice:
- Speak lovingly. Many non-Christians have a stereotypical belief that Christians are close-minded and arrogant. Don’t fuel that belief.
- Be brief. People aren’t looking for a six-page theological dissertation. Try to answer the question in just a few sentences.
- Include a link. When you post an answer, there is a place where you can enter your source. Post a link to a relevant Christian web page on the subject, or even a Christian forum where that question is being discussed. Yahoo! Answers is not designed for dialog. By posting a link, you give people a chance to explore the question further in a Christian setting that does encourage dialog and relationship building.
- Beware of using too much religious jargon that may confuse a non-believer.
- Avoid arguments. They are ineffective in this setting. Gently state the truth in love as I mentioned before, and give the Holy Spirit a chance to work.
After you’ve visited Yahoo! Answers, post a comment about your experience. What do you think of the questions being asked there? Did you post any answers? Do you think you’ll visit Yahoo! Answers regularly in the future?
In His Service,