• an annual worldwide focus day on a Sunday near the end of April, 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
Digital Evangelism Issues
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The world-changing spread of the Web are charted on this interactive world map displaying figures from 1998 to 2008.
For more interative maps from Charts Bin on a range of statistical developments, including web users, mobile subscribers, and many social trends.
For a graphic of piecharts showing mobile use in various categories, view The Size of the Mobile Market, and see a world map of mobile browser use. These graphic are too small to read, unless you can use your browser’s zoom feature (CTRL ++) to increase their size.
Those living outside UK may be unaware of an extremely effective current TV advertising campaign featuring meerkats. The adverts promote insurance comparison service ComparetheMarket.com and feature meerkat ‘Aleksandr Orlov’ (supposedly a rich Russian business person) with strong Russian accent.
The adverts are based on the fictional supposition that many people are mistakenly going to his dating website ComparetheMeerkat.com looking for insurance advice and he wishes to correct this stupid error and point them to the real ComparetheMarket.com site. He signs off from his corrective advice with the word simples, which has already entered British English as a witticism. There is even a back story – how his ancestors fought against enormous odds to reach Russia. The concept is sheer creative genius.
The company has been wise enough to create various spin-off clips, imagined interviews with Alexandr, a Facebook fan page (700,000 fans!), Twitter feed, etc. Drill into the spoof meerkat site for a number of videos, including supposed out-takes from filming, which you can also find at Youtube, along with tribute clips. Aleksandr has a considerable cult following online.
Why do you think this campaign is so effective? Can we learn anything from it for creative communication and effective evangelism? Add your comments below. (If you want to know more about God’s good news, visit PowertoChange.com.)
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:
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.
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.
Enrique de Argaez of InternetWorldStats, gives in his newsletter the latest figures for web usage. 21 years after the first moves were made to open the previously private and academic networks to the public as the baby Internet, (see history), he claims there are now 1.734 billion web users, representing 25% of the world population. Doubtless many of these are only occasional users; nevertheless 25% penetration, much of it outside the West, is quite remarkable.
The challenge of the needs of the world is clearly stated by David Taylor in the September/October issue of Mission Frontiers.
Digimission in London 1 December
UK’s Evangelical Alliance and Slipstream Podcast present a day conference in London UK, with Shane Hipps (speaking by live video), Maggi Dawn, Jonny Baker, Mark Meynell and Krish Kandiah. “We will be looking at a number of issues – not just blogging but looking at how mission might need to look, recognising that more and more of us are spending time online – on social networks, twitter, blogs, etc. How should that change the way we do conventional mission and online mission?” Early bird bookings get a copy of Hipps’ book Flickering Pixels. Get more info/book here.
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.
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.
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.
You may have already seen cartoon stories online from Xtranormal, without knowing their source. This website enables you to place your own computer-generated characters into a mini story! It looks cool. Why not try it? It could even be used evangelistically.
There are limitations, especially the speech – which is computer generated from your typed script. If you have the software to do it, you could create the cartoon, download it, then wipe off their recording and dub the dialog with your own recording equipment and a drama group. This could be a fun project for a youth group to try, for instance.
it will only be as good as your dialog – a boring story and wooden characterization will be just that
don’t get your cartoon characters to preach at each other or the viewer, or end up apparently ‘repenting’. It will be cringeworthy. Think ‘Peanuts’ – humor, touching whimsical stories, real characters that your viewers can identify with. Aim at leaving a question in the viewers minds, rather than blasting them with answers.
Please send URLs of videos you make, and we can feature them!
If it gives you a taste for animation and cartoons, visit Comix35,
who offer training in cartooning and animation.
Animation is a wonderful artform. You may not be familiar with the anime cartoon art-form from Japan, but these films have become increasingly popular in the West, through the work of film-makers such as Studio Ghibli providing films with an English soundtrack. Check, for instance, Hayao Miyazaki’s Castle in the Sky or Spirited Away. In anime, there is touching combination of thousands of years of Japanese story-telling tradition and worldview, with the familiar universal themes of story-telling. Redemptive themes abound, along with the frequent assumption of a spiritual realm, giving us ideal starting points to use for evangelism.
Watch a Studio Ghibli trailer of films ranging from 1984 to 2005 (Nausicaa to Howls):
Stewart Redwine writes in Christian Video Magazine about an issue with short films being projected in a church meeting. “The problem with short films shown in a Church service is simply this; no one knows when the video will end.” They know that TV ads last 30 seconds, music videos 3-6 minutes, and TV programs 30 minutes. They have no frame of reference for engaging with a video short, unless we give them help.
If you don’t want your younger kids to be rooting through YouTube, but they do want to watch online video, try the recently launched ZuiTube, which offers almost 60,000 parent- and teacher-approved videos.
Suppose God sent you a letter. And in it, He offered you a gift – a simple evangelistic approach similar to the parables that Jesus used. Something that would engage with people’s interests, and employ a common language and experience. Would you want to use it?
We are convinced that this is exactly God’s heart, and that He does indeed offer us a resource which is grossly under-used for ministry: contemporary culture – ie. the world of film, TV, music, theater, books. “You mean, worldly entertainment? No way.”
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