Internet Evangelism Idea #1: Using CraigsList to Serve Local People in Need

This post is a part of the series 20 Ways to Share Your Faith Online leading up to Internet Evangelism Day on April 25. We encourage you to tweet, share, blog & discuss these ideas in your church & circle of influence.

CraigsList has revolutionized the classified ad industry.  Not too long ago local newspapers had a virtual monopoly, and anyone looking to buy, sell, or hire had to pay big fees to run a classified in their local newspaper.

CraigsList changed all that with its free, online, community-monitored classified ads.

Now anyone can go online and post an ad for just about any item they want to sell, service they want to provide, or job opening they want to fill – for free!

That’s great, but what does CraigsList have to do sharing your faith?

I first heard this idea from Shelly Juskowicz, Pastor to Women at Mariner’s Church in Irvine, CA when she gave a talk as a part of Leadership Network’s AHA Online Conference.

The entire talk is inspiring and worth watching, but the part about CraigsList starts at 4:37

The idea is quite simple.

  • Go to CraigsList.
  • Click into the listings for your specific location.
  • Under the “for sale” heading click the “Wanted” category.
  • Find a listing for someone in need.
  • Meet their need.

Shelly tells of how she went onto CraigsList, found a listing for someone who needed blankets, bought the blankets, and brought them to her.

Most of the listings in the wanted category are for people who want to buy things – cars, scrap metal, jewelry, etc – but as I look at the wanted board in my own Tampa Bay area I see needs like this:

A kind heart needed:

OK HERE IT GOES -MY SONS BIRTHDAY IS SATURDAY 03-04-2010 AND I AM UNABLE TO BUY HIM ANYTHINGI , MY HUSBAND HAS ONLY BEEN WORKING ENOUGH TO KEEP OUR LIGHT ON…

Family in need:

hi my family just moved here 3 weeks ago we are getting out own place this week and we have very lil money and we are in need of kitchen supplys we have everything else so if you can help out we will greatly appreciate it im not asking for it for free but atleast cheap thank you so much

As with any kind of servant evangelism, you may not have the opportunity to share the gospel immediately (though maybe you will), but  maybe you can give the person your phone number of email address and tell them to contact you if they need anything else.  Maybe you can invite them to join you at church (bring a brochure or invitation card).

What do you think? Is this use of CraigsList a way you might connect with people in your community?

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, elder of CypressMeadows.org, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.

30 Responses to “Internet Evangelism Idea #1: Using CraigsList to Serve Local People in Need”

  1. It's an interesting idea in many ways.

    One has to think of the immediate concerns — is the post real, is it not — and consider typical personal safety rules about going.

    I've not tried it, but it is a great idea and can help you make new connections in your neighborhood.

    Chris

    • Good point about the safety concerns. You really don't have any way to know that the post is real or the person is who they say they are. Good idea to go with 1 or 2 other people. Maybe somebody big. :)

  2. Getting back to basics. I love it.

  3. Wow, this is interesting. I had no idea of these sorts of postings on Craiglist. What a great way to find out someone's need and help them.

    Dave

  4. Shelly is convincing.

    I don't use CraigsList much but went straightaway to see what she was talking about. Couldn't find the "needs section."

    Echo the safety concerns though.

    She makes an excellent point about people reaching out through social media networks to have their needs met, not even thinking that they can call a church.

    That challenge should be a part of every church's thinking as they consider using communication technologies for outreach.

    • It's not specifically called "needs section" it's listed as "wanted."

      Might be why you had a hard time finding it ;)

      • Thanks. That's what happens when you watch the video and scan the article.

        My "duh" moment for the day.

        Like I was saying, "The idea is quite simple." ;)

  5. I love the idea of this! There is a website out there that actually does this. It's called thecommon.org. But I imagine that most people with needs will not automatically think of this specific website. But craigslist is popular enough that people know that they can get results with it. And I love the idea of the church being the hands and feet that meets those needs in the community!

    I'm going to actually suggest this type of activity in our church… maybe build a 'craigslist team' that is tasked with monitoring these needs, filling them where they can, and escalating others that may need greater support.

    Good stuff!
    Dan King

  6. What a fantastic idea.

    I'm not too worried about safety concerns, personally. I'm a pretty big guys…and most of our 'ushers' at church are more like 'bar bouncers,' so I think we'll be ok ;)

  7. I never thought about using craigslist this way. Great ideas!

  8. Thanks for sharing this AHA!!! moment. My wife and I have been looking for a unique way to help people in our community, and this article provided a step in the right direction.

  9. Paul, great idea. I love the creativity. But what I love more than the specific idea, is the intentionality behind it. By doing this you are intentionally seeking to find need and serve your neighbor. It is so easy to isolate ourselves from need and then (at least in our minds) absolve ourselves of any responsibility to do anything about it. This turns the tables and seeks the needs out. Love it!

  10. Hey Paul, always enjoy reading your blogs. There's another site similar to Craigslist that you should check out. YouHaveIWant.com It's a smarter classifieds system that allows for people to chat directly, instead of thru e-mails. Blog about it! Would love to see what my favorite blogger has to say about this site that is important to me. It's a startup site so it's still in the process of coming out. >>>> http://www.YouHaveIWant.com

    Cheers,
    steve

  11. hey was inspired so much by the video, I live in England and went straight to my section of Craigslist to see if there was anyway that I could help but was amazed to see there was nothing in my area. I'm sure there is lots of people that are in great need where I am as theres always people in need. Any ideas on how to make this more well known?
    Thanks

  12. Another place to find needs is athttp://www.freecycle.org. Find the group in your area and look for "wanted" ads. However, you must be cleared for membership in the group before posting anything.

  13. Really great creativity. Reminds us that sharing the gospel can be so simple, I also really like the idea of walking around with the gift vouchers for food. Provides an easy ice beaker and of course you will get to know your neighbors.

  14. I must appreciation for the work you get in writing this article. It has been an encouragement for me. I have transferred this through to a friend. thankyou

  15. Internet Evangelism Idea #1: Using CraigsList to Serve Local People in Need | Christian Web Trends Blog I was recommended this web site by my cousin. I am not sure whether this post is written by him as nobody else know such detailed about my problem. You’re wonderful! Thanks! your article about Internet Evangelism Idea #1: Using CraigsList to Serve Local People in Need | Christian Web Trends Blog Best Regards Cassetta Shane

  16. Internet Evangelism Idea #1: Using CraigsList to Serve Local People in Need is a revelation for mission minded people. I love it and I would have to recommend it to my Church but I’m sure if ‘Craigslist’ covers my location i.e.”Abeokuta, Nigeria”. I have tried but I can not find my location. Thanks

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  4. Become A Blessing Thru Social Media « FAITH BASED MEDIA 2.0 - Apr 13, 2010

    [...] Using YouTube, Shelly Juskowicz, Pastor to Women at Mariner’s Church in Irvine, CA provides an excellent example of how to use Craigslist to identify and meet some of the pressing needs of neighbors in her community. Paul Steinbrueck picks this idea up in his excellent post on OurChurch.com http://blog.ourchurch.com/2010/04/02/internet-evangelism-idea-1-using-craigslist-to-serve-local-peop… [...]