Creating a digital outreach training day in your church
Internet Evangelism Day encourages churches and other groups to create a focus spot or discussion time to consider how be effective in digital evangelism and integrate it with the rest of their ministry. Although the actual designated Day – usually the third or fourth Sunday in April – is a good time for this, there is no reason why you should not create a focus day at any time of the year.
As never before, there is an incredible potential of digital media to share the good news of Jesus, in an intentional but appropriate way. In the last eight years, the Internet has changed dramatically:
- the vast growth in digital access via mobile phones, including in the Majority World
- the advent of social networking, through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and many other niche networks
- growth of the video short on YouTube and elsewhere, to communicate visually, and often by storytelling
These three developments intertwine into what we might call a ‘three-fold cord’ of strength, echoing Ecclesiastes 4:12. Each gains synergy by functioning together with the other two.
It is now simple and practical for any online Jesus-follower to engage in opt-in permission conversations across existing relationships with friends and indirectly to friends-of-friends, using perhaps all three platforms – social, mobile and video short. No longer is digital evangelism a specialism, needing writing or technical skills.
The outsider-friendly video short has growing significance. It can be used to start a conversation, or enhance an existing discussion, by posting to Facebook, Twitter etc. Valuable ready-made sources of video shorts, which can be dropped into Facebook with a single click, include:
- YesHeIs.com (varied categories of shorts in several languages)
- GlobalShortFilmNetwork.com (often story-based and parable-like)
- Focus.org.uk (God: New Evidence apologetics for outsiders)
- Damaris.org (parallels and lessons from movies)
- the Falling Plates video is a valuable explanation of the good news in a visual style
Also very significant are mobile phone apps which enable and enhance one-to-one faith-sharing. Sadly, there are very few. Mensajes de Fe is a new release (in Spanish). The JESUS Film is available in multiple languages as an app.
Phone users can also choose and download to their phones a small selection of video shorts to use in the same way. With growing mobile ownership across the Majority World, these opportunities are worldwide and strategic. MobileAdvance.org is one resource to learn more. The Mobile Ministry Forum connects groups working in this area.
There is a big need for churches to encourage members to understand these possibilities. A strategic way to do this is to appoint a ‘digital advocate’ in the fellowship to inform, educate and encourage members about effective and appropriate use of the ‘three-fold cord’ – read more at IEDay.net/advocate.php
When Christians in a community choose a range of social networking friends that includes many who are not yet Jesus-followers, it becomes likely that a majority of people in the community could be digitally connected to at least one believer.
Churches and digital
Churches can also use social media corporately, and many are finding this an incredibly effective voice in the community, rather than just as an internal communication system to members. It is possible to be outsider-friendly, but sadly, many churches only use social media as an internal communication tool. InternetToolboxforChurches.com is a key initiative to learn more about this.
How to create a focus day in your church or group
- Reproduce (or link to) this short news item in your church announcement sheet, church newsletter, blog or website, or any other media: ieday.net/shortannouncement.php
- Create a short focus spot in a meeting, or even theme an entire service around digital evangelism opportunities. A very short focus spot might be little more than a verbal announcement. If more time is available, then you could add components such as a video short (for example the YesHEIs cartoon), PowerPoint slides, an interview with a church member involved in digital ministry, or an explanation of the ‘three-fold cord’ – perhaps with a live projected demonstration of posting video clips into Facebook.
- Build on this awareness to plan a ministry or church digital strategy if you do not already have one.
- Consider appointing a ‘digital advocate’ to resource your fellowship or team.
Questionnaire and free ebook
We’ve produced a 10-question survey about digital evangelism on SurveyMonkey. It’s not so much a yes/no questionnaire as a conversation to learn from each other. We will very much value your input: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/LN63THN
As a thank you, you’ll get a free ebook download: Paul Clifford’s well-reviewed book Tweeting Church. He has also authored Podcasting Church, Church Video Summer School, and The Serving Church. Check his resources at TrinityDigitalMedia.com.
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