• 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
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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.
Scroll down the page to see a graphic video that demonstrates ‘thinking outside the box’ – and thereby enticing people to stop and do something in a different way. Adding fun to the equation makes a big difference, creates desire, and unlocks our inner child. There are also some parable meanings in the visual story too – if you stop to think about them. Please add your thoughts via ‘comments’ link below. There are many ways to be creative – check this page with a gorilla video.
Creating desire is a key element of any message we want people to act on. A very significant quotation from Antoine de Saint Exupery is thought-provoking:
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”
Awakening and connecting with people’s dreams is a key to evangelism. C. Michael Johnson of BreakthroughChurch.com writes,
“Effective … communicators find their human voice.They learn the language of dreams, a language that awakens hearts and connects with people’s core, universal, spiritual aspirations. God wired us that way, planting in each of us unique dreams that call us to destiny. I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, people don’t talk the way religious folks do. To most, spiritual yearnings are ‘dreams.’ My spirit is, well…it’s “me.” The language of dreams (purpose, identity, passion, heart) defines the most relevant, responsive message you can ever use to build lasting relationships with the unchurched.”
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.
I finally got round to reading Tim Steven’s new book Pop goes the Church – Should the Church Engage Pop Culture and was much impressed. He makes a compelling biblical case for using pop culture as a starting point in evangelism. Though he writes from the viewpoint of local church evangelism, his conclusions apply equally to online evangelism. Watch Stevens in this clip →
Another book I have found incredibly insightful is Tell Me a Story: The Life-Shaping Power of Our Stories. We are our stories. We are “the product of all the stories you have heard and lived – and of many that you have never heard.” Watch Dr Taylor speak briefly in this video →
This video A Thousand Questions is a moving challenge to Christian service: “Are you ready to take part in God’s story?” Many are using it for church meetings. It’s available in higher definition as a DVD.
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