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  • • an annual worldwide focus day on a Sunday in Spring, as the culmination of Digital Outreach Month. Churches and other groups are encouraged to create a focus spot or digital training day, either on that Sunday, or indeed at any time of the year.
  • • a year-round resource guide about web, mobile and digital media outreach

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Strategic online ministry book: Netcasters

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Netcasters: Using the Internet to Make Fishers of Men
Craig von Buseck
B & H Publishing Group
ISBN 978-0-8054-4784-2

June 2010 saw the publication of this very significant title which gives a broad overview of digital evangelism. It is a much-needed initiative, for there has been no comparable study like this since Andrew Careaga’s books in the early days of the Web.

Von Buseck presents a unique overview into the vast and growing potential of the digital media to share the good news of Jesus. Its well-researched and visionary coverage, interviews and case studies are indispensable to anyone needing to understand the nature of the new media and how to use them effectively. And since we all now live in a ‘digital communication culture’, this surely means all of us: Jesus-followers at any stage of our spiritual journeys, as well as pastors and leaders, college students and faculty (it’s an ideal textbook), or mission staff and believers from diverse cultures and countries. And remarkably, we don’t need technical knowledge for this!

Craig has kindly given us an interview:

Q “Why did you write Netcasters?”

A “The Apostle Paul encouraged the Corinthian church by explaining that in his ministry his goal was to become all things to all people.

“Paul had been one of the leading Jewish Pharisees before his encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. After his dramatic salvation experience God called Saul to minister to the Gentiles. He was so willing to “become all things to all people” that this former Pharisee changed his name from the Jewish ‘Saul’ to the Greek ‘Paul’ in order to build a cultural bridge with the Gentiles.

“In evangelism we need to look for the ways to connect with the people that God has called us to reach with the gospel. The use of the Internet and digital media is one of the most effective ways to do this today.

“NetCasters was written to describe what internet evangelism is and who is doing it well – both large ministries and individual cybermissionaries. I also provide a list of resources and contacts so that someone who feels called to evangelize on the Web will be able to quickly get up-to-speed on how to get the ball rolling.”

Read rest of interview.

open bookLook inside book | where to buy cheaply
open bookPublisher’s book page with author bio
facebook logoNetcasters Facebook community page

FREE Please republish our review (with interview if you wish) in any medium: print, email newsletter or website. A high-res author photo and book-cover graphic are available to accompany the review.

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Being what they search for

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I reported in our latest Web Evangelism Bulletin how Google can predict a flu outbreak in a particular town or area long before the medical authorities, based an upsurge in geographical searches about flu. Google has a unique*, mind-blowing direct line into the minds of the planet. (*With the exception of God, of course.)

Try Google Insights for Search. Steve explains at Communicate Jesus just how strategic this tool is.

You can check how people have been searching over past days or years. For instance, look at a search for meaning of Christmas. Then check which country searched most for this – and surprisingly it is Philippines. What this tool does not appear to show is actual numbers of searches.To find these, use the Google Adwords Keyword Tool.

Or you can find out, for instance, what was on the collective heart of China last week, or Poland last year.

These tools give us ways to find bridge topics and areas of common interest for evangelism, both offline and offline. How could these tools help you – add your comment below?

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Global evangelism and digital media

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The Joshua Project has expressed progress in world evangelism using a Global Progress Scale. Different colors represent evangelism status.

It would be interesting to create an overlay for this map showing digital penetration in the red (unreached) areas, because many of these have medium to high use of the Web and/or mobile phone ownership:

web usage stats
mobile penetration data

This detailed analysis by Ugandan evangelist Kato Mivule demonstrates the current usefulness and growing importance of mobile communication in Africa.

Mobiles are equally strategic in technologically-advanced countries such as Japan, where more web access and emailing is done by mobile phone than fixed computer. There is a growing trend in Africa to use mobiles for web access, because of the shortage of fixed phone-lines.

Mobiles and email in Japan
Report from Morgan Stanley predicts that soon, there will be twice as much mobile web access as using fixed computers.

This YouTube presentation explains the opportunities that mobiles offer to missions and evangelists in the non-West (slight sound problem on part of video, to be soon corrected):

Watch a rather long (45-min) secular vox-pop documentary on mobile use in Zanzibar, with introductory article.

As Greg Atkinson has observed, “Think global and mobile.” If you are interested in these possibilities, join Visual Story Network, follow Mobile Ministry Magazine and check our resources about mobiles. We trust that the strategic Lausanne Conference later this year will give full weight to these incredible opportunities.

If your mobile phone will support video clips, store a portfolio of ‘conversation starter’ clips such as these, that you can share when you have the opportunity. (There are many easy ways to download YouTube videos onto your own computer or phone.)

If you have stories to share of effective mobile opportunities, please use the comment link below.

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Technology news and ideas

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Much web and technology news is positioned for the web or computer professional. UK’s Guardian newspaper runs regular technology news online (and in Thursday’s print edition) pitched at the rest of us. Worth bookmarking.

One recent and insightful feature was How laptops took over the world.
“The availability of cheaper usable laptops, wifi, or 3G web access, is switching the balance between being tethered to a unmovable desktop machine, and a portable go-anywhere workstation.”

Over at Pastor Ralph Wilson’s web promotion site, there are regular useful articles. Check How to choose the best photos for your website – for “all pictures are not created equal”. And to celebrate his 15 years of online presence, he’s offering PDF books for free.

For other free books on technology, evangelism and communication, check our book recommendations.

And if you are interested in the vast and growing potential for using mobile phones and devices for evangelism and ministry, check Mobile Ministry Magazine
, see the recent postings at Visual Story Network and our page of mobile resources and video clips, including one explaining how mobile phones are dramatically transforming development and grass-roots trading in sub-Saharan Africa and other regions.

It is in the mobile arena that developments are proceeding at lightning speed. Desktop PCs and laptops are much the same as five years ago (only a bit faster with more memory), and the chances are that you are reading this on a computer of that age. But mobile devices and applications are advancing almost month by month. What will the mobile world look like by 2020? Pew Internet suggests they will be More Computer Than Phone.

This amusing Matryoshka doll-like illustration of mobile phone development demonstrates how far mobile devices have already come.

mobile-evolution-1

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Only with the-fangled interweb thingy

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Before the Internet and YouTube, this was impossible – that a small-church wedding video could go viral, and then become the storyline for a major TV series: see The Office, the Wedding and the Power of the Internet – a blog posting from Mark Roberts.

Look too at how the world of advertising has changed in 20 years. A comparison chart was featured at Barcelona’s Chiringuito and was picked up by Ministry Marketing Coach, where Kerry Bural comments, “Each of these mediums and technologies (plus many more) represent potential connection points that could and should be leveraged for reaching people. Do churches and ministries have a baseline understanding of these and other mediums? Is the complex nature of communication on your radar?”

Pastor Ralph Wilson is an expert on marketing, and his Web Marketing Today website and newsletter have been online for an amazing 15 years. As an anniversary offer, he is giving away some of his ebooks that are normally pay for. Although some of his writings apply only to business marketing, many principles also apply to Christian ministries and web evangelism, so take the chance to grab the offers.

And is the Internet affecting our civility? asks SiteReference.

The vast range of mobile phone ‘apps’ (small downloadable programs, usually free) is creating new opportunities. Church Marketing Sucks blog asks whether churches need to develop their own apps.

Kindle launch
And Amazon has just launched their Kindle book reader outside USA. I first handled one of these last month and was certainly impressed. Easy and clear to use, holds a vast range of books, allows you to add your own notes to books as you read (which are then stored on the Amazon server in your own library). There is a very quick conversion process for PDF ebooks into the Kindle format – and these too, once converted, remain in your Amazon library permanently. (Were you to lose your Kindle, you’d get all your books back from your library.) The Kindle also has limited web-browsing ability. Strangely, people outside USA currently have to order it from Amazon US, which means the uncertainty of import duties. Presumably it will soon be available from national Amazon sites.

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The potential of mobile ministry

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There are many innovative ways to use mobiles, as this article from NTEN explains. Some of these could have specific potential for evangelism, including the use of Bluetooth.

And for a fascinating overview of mobile and technology development, (which you could also download and project in meetings or seminars), watch Did You Know 4.0:

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Online training options for web ministry

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Adrienne at the Computer Forensics Training blog has put together a remarkable list of 100 Open Courses to Make Yourself an Internet Whiz.

These are free downloadable courses from major universities and training institutions, on a wide range of internet and communication topics.

We also list other training options for different areas of web ministry which includes the new IMPP online courses from Dr Dave Bourgeois.

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Technology and the generation gap

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A new study by The Barna Group explores how technology is shaping different experiences and expectations among generations.

I heard recently of a youth group where the chosen means of communicating within the membership, news of activities, etc, was via Facebook, because everyone was a member.

Kelly Dolan asks at Neue Ministry blog how the Web changes ‘I don’t know’ because we can now find almost any information within seconds.

Jeremy Wagstaff, a wise commentator, points out the potential limitations of social media, particularly Twitter.

And here’s a wonderful spoof on a supposedly new Twitter-like service.

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