This post is part 6 in 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.
The internet is well and truly part of the Aussie culture. In fact, Australia No. 1 in the world in time spent online on social media websites such as Facebook. You can either see that as a terrible waste of time or a huge opportunity to share the good news of Jesus.
The New Testament is replete with examples of the disciples sharing the good news where the people spent their time. Peter preached the gospel in a market place. Thousands responded. Paul preached the gospel at the centre of culture and influence in Greece. Influential people responded.
The internet is where people now spend an large proportion of their leisure time. It is definitely a medium where the church needs to be more proactively engaged.
Here are four myths that stop churches from having an online presence:
Myth 1: You won’t reach people on the internet – The internet is the new pub, marketplace or back fence. Time spent online on social media sites like Facebook is growing rapidly. A recent Nielsen survey reports that Facebook accounts for 29% of all time spent online by Australians. In October last year, Australian users spent 27.2 hours online – 7.55 of which were spent on Facebook. In the same month, Australian users uploaded 80 million pictures, wrote 32 million ‘wall posts’ and 45 million ’status updates’. Australia leads the world in time spent on social media sites. If you think Facebook is for the next generation, think again, the fastest growing user group is people over the age of 35.
Myth 2: Your church doesn’t have enough money or human resources – Wrong, the wonderful thing about the internet is that so much is free. YouTube, Facebook. Twitter. They are all free. There is a perception that only large churches that have dedicated staff like myself can do it. Crossway’s weekly online social media communication routine is done by volunteers. All you need is someone with common sense, who can spell, is reliable and understands how to use social media.
Myth 3: The internet is all hype and isn’t missional – James Farley who is the Chief Marketing Officer of Ford expressed it best in talking about the power of an individual opinion versus corporate message “You can’t just say it. You have to get the people to say it to each other.” In the post modern world we live in the most effective form of marketing and communications for any cause is when people tell other people their experience, rather than organizations telling people what to think or do. At Crossway we create opportunities to help people invite their friends to church. We have online e-invites for our congregations to invite their friends to church. We’ve also created YouTube video invites for Easter, Christmas or sermon series which people can share through Facebook with all their Facebook friends.
Myth 4: The internet is the devils playground which churches should stay out of –The internet is full of websites that many Christians rightly wouldn’t want to visit . However, church leaders have to make a call and decide whether they are going to be part of the solution to this massive online problem. I know of a large church that advertises on Google. A link on the Google site to that church pops up when someone is searching around the key words of pornography and other similar related searches. When the person clicks through to their site they have a targeted response to help that person move away from their addiction. Many people have clicked through to their website, committed their lives to Jesus and have been transformed as a result.
Four tips to help churches to get online (for free):
- Start a Twitter & Facebook page for your church.
- Promote church events regularly on Facebook & Twitter
- Let your congregation know that they can invite their Facebook or Twitter friends to any outreach or community events you post to it.
- Sign up to wufoo.com or Google Docs and create a simple form which can be embedded on your church website where your congregation can invite their friends to church. Tell your congregation about them. Don’t expect them to discover it.
Steve is the communications guy for Crossway in Melbourne, Australia. He gives tips about communications, strategy & creativity for churches at Clear & Simple. You can follow him @Stevefogg or say G’day on Facebook.