Internet Evangelism Idea #6: 4 Huge Myths Of Online Evangelism

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 ofThe 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):

  1. Start a Twitter & Facebook page for your church.
  2. Promote church events regularly on Facebook & Twitter
  3. Let your congregation know that they can invite their Facebook or Twitter friends to any outreach or community events you post to it.
  4. 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.

I'm husband to one, father to 3, Communications guy to a church called Crossway. You can read my blog or follow me on Twitter @SteveFogg

7 Responses to “Internet Evangelism Idea #6: 4 Huge Myths Of Online Evangelism”

  1. Great post to help demystify the idea of using the Internet for outreach. You've provided some excellent ideas and tips for taking first steps, often the hardest part of getting started.

    I'd like to suggest another tip.

    *Form a steering team to develop and oversee an Internet outreach plan along with expected needs and results. You wouldn't devote substantial human or financial resources to any outreach endeavor without careful research and understanding of what you're doing.

    For example, there's still ongoing debate about what it means to be the church online (see Paul's "10 Things I learned From The Online Church Blog Series" on this site). This is a hurdle that must be overcome in any plan for more intentional use of the Net. The steering team, in conjunction with pastoral staff can help formulate a position.

    The pace of change on the Internet is dizzying. The steering team would be tasked with keeping track of trends, technology and what other churches are doing.

    Social media is changing the rules, again. No one knows where all this is going. But this is where we are and you have to experiment for the gospel to see what works. We can't let our fears drown out our faith.

    As you plan and pray, God will reveal which digital outreach strategies are best aligned with His vision for your church.

    • Just be sure not to plan too much before jumping in. A lot of social media you learn as you go, and often you won't know the best strategies for your church or ministry until you try them and measure the results.

  2. Gordon, thxs for your comment! Someone said to me today that they are building the canoe while paddling down the stream. I also think there is a bit of rebuilding going on as we paddle down that stream.

    That's where we all are with social media. Learning as we are going, rethinking, relearning as new ideas come around that work or don't work.

    Paul, Apologies for the delay in commenting. Its been a BIG week and I havent been online that much.

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