Digital evangelism curriculum proposals

Introduction

The digital media are changing the world and the way we communicate. We therefore encourage colleges to consider offering modules or full courses about digital evangelism:
  • Open Letter to Colleges

We see huge potential for modules or longer courses, at varying depths. At a minimum, we suggest that all ministry students, whether for pastoral or missionary work, needs to understand the nature of digital media, and how the world is moving from a ‘print communication culture’ to a ‘digital communication culture’, where most of the ground-rules are different.

seminar in progress The topic suggestions listed below aim to encompass these inter-related subjects. Although it is possible to present a very brief introductory overview to many of them within a single seminar, it would of course take many hours to investigate even one topic area at any depth. (We hope that this site and its hundreds of outside links, and our book recommendations, would be helpful in any digital ministry course.)

Coverage of the whole subject could easily expand into a one-year subsidiary module, a college major, full MA, or a postgraduate course with research dissertation. (There is a big need for research into many areas of this new medium.)

Distance learning option

There is also great potential in offering these subjects by distance learning. Because digital evangelism is relatively new, and training opportunities currently so limited, a distance learning course allows teaching to be available to a far wider range of students, unrestricted by geography.

Visiting faculty

We offer a range of speakers who can contribute to college courses as lecturers, or by Skype or telephone conferencing.

Suggested curriculum areas

  1. The web as a medium
    • Demographics of web & mobile phone use
    • Previous communication cultures: print & broadcast
    • Characteristics of digital communication culture, including the move from abstract thinking & propositional truth towards visual story, dialogue & relational communication
    • The significance of story-telling for effective communication
    • Comparison of digital culture with oral communication cultures
    • Understanding postmodernism, worldviews & relationship to digital culture
    • Strengths & weaknesses of digital communication
    • Avoiding perception & use of Web as one-way ‘brochureware’ or ‘just another medium to preach on’
    • Linear v. non-linear & pull v. push mediums
    • Increasing significance of story in communication
    • Online dis-inhibition effect
    • Web 2.0 concept - the grown-up interactive web
    • Increased opportunities to minister online without technical knowledge
    • Personal safety & integrity online

  2. Communication online
    • Attractional v. incarnational witness; implications & equivalents in online evangelism
    • Importance of dialogue and relationship building, rather than one-way preaching
    • Understanding web usage by non-Christians
    • How to reach non-seekers – starting the process
    • Targeting affinity groups
    • The Bridge Strategy – being what people search for; view examples
    • Engaging with needs & life problems
    • Effective testimonies that engage with not-yet-Christians
    • Creative evangelism approaches
    • The Long Tail & implications for ministry
    • Avoiding Christian jargon & idiom, or presumption of previous Christian knowledge

  3. Popular culture
    • The significance of story as a leisure-time activity in all cultures
    • Strategic value of movies, books, music as a starting point
    • Embedded redemptive parallels in the media
    • Need for contextualization even in the West

  4. Spiritual journeys
    • How people become Christians: Engel Scale & Gray Matrix
    • Appropriate approaches for people at different levels on these scales
    • Role of relationships in conversion
    • Needs-based evangelism
    • Overcoming perceived hostility to evangelicals & the church
    • E-mentoring, relationships
    • Role of volunteer mentors for web outreach

  5. Churches and web ministry
    • Church websites: how to be outsider friendly
    • Using social networking to relate to the community as well as the fellowship
    • Integrating face-to-face and digital media in church ministry
    • Need for local church ‘digital advocates’ to equip the church members
    • Church-based digital evangelism teams, using social media

  6. Social networking
    • Blogging, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest
    • How to build relationships and share faith on each platform to not-yet-Christians
    • The three-fold cord of social networking, mobile phones, and video clips
    • At last, this is an area that any online Jesus-follower can share faith, without technical knowledge

  7. Blogging
    • How to start a blog
    • Platforms available
    • Creating blogs that interest non-Christians

  8. Mobile devices
    • Demographics and use
    • Downloadable books, bibles, video clips, MP3s, mini-presentations
    • Shortcodes and Mobile Tags to connect directly to websites
    • Sharing video clips, apps and other resources face-to-face
    • Mobile-friendly websites
    • Other technical innovations which can be used for ministry or outreach

  9. Video shorts
    • Use in evangelism & discipleship
    • Video clips on website and YouTube
    • Posting to social media from the ready-made curated lists of evangelistic clips on eg YesHeIs.com, Focus.org.uk & GlobalShortFilmNetwork.com
    • Producing and editing short video clips (for a more detailed video curriculum, we recommend Visual Story Network’s curriculum)
    • Potential of short animations: drawn, stop-motion or time-lapse

  10. Games
    • Gaming as a means of relationship-building
    • Second Life and other multi-user virtual environments
    • Games with an internal message

  11. The non-west majority world
    • Needs and opportunities in non-English languages and non-western countries and 10-40 Window
    • Importance of easy English for second-language speakers
    • Teaching English online
    • Value of informal networks of web evangelists, missions, radio ministry, literature and local churches in specific countries and regions
    • Comics, cartoons, Manga storytelling
    • Contextualization to communicate well to different cultures and religious worldviews
    • Starting points based on embedded truths in indigenous culture (eg. Peace Child, Christian symbolism in Chinese writing characters, etc.)
    • Understanding & communicating with other religious worldviews, shame cultures, & oral communication cultures
    • Mission agencies and web ministry - integating face-to-face with digital
    • Distributing CDs, DVDs, PDFs and mobile phone apps of books, bibles, audio & visual content
    • Designing sites for low bandwidth
    • Secure communications, followup, integration with mobiles or VOIP
    • Opportunities to teach IT as a bridge-building ministry (as strategic as teaching English)
    • Creating community-based Internet cafes
    • Distance-learning options for discipleship & mentoring

  12. Writing skills
    • Understanding how people skim webpages and sites
    • Writing for the Web – journalism not preaching
    • Catchy headlines, subheads, whitespace; drawing the eye down the page
    • Revising & editing
    • Concept of website credibility

  13. Website design
    • CMS options such as WordPress
    • Site usability & navigational architecture
    • Site testing for usability & non-Christian perceptions
    • CSS

  14. Web promotion
    • Search engine optimization
    • Understand page titles & meta descriptions, link popularity etc
    • Other web promotion methods, including the integration of social media into all web ministry and paid-for advertising on Google & Facebook

  15. Research into digital evangelism
    • Research methodologies
    • Online research
    • Dissertation writing
    • Identifying achievable research topics
Open Letter to Bible Colleges | College web evangelism opportunities | Other training resources | Speaker panel | Research papers | Book list
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