- Channel topics
- Finding faithHow people become Christians
- Effective communicationApproaches for biblical communication
- Bridge the gapMeeting people on the common ground of their interests & needs
- Bridging opportunitiesExamples and opportunities for using the Bridge Strategy
- Using cultureTypes of culture; understanding & using culture in evangelism
- Websites that workIssues for site planning, usability and promotion
- Problems in evangelismThings that stop us being effective
- Mission opportunitiesDigital evangelism & cross-cultural mission, mission & literature resources
- Writing wellHow to write effectively for the web or print media
A Communication Channel page
... our resource covering a wide range of evangelism issues
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Research Papers and Studies
Wise insightful research is a pre-requisite to action: Nehemiah 2:11-18. Without concrete information, we are often just guessing and ‘flying without radar’. A growing number of people have done research into the relationship between the Internet, the church, and evangelism-related subjects. Not all of us are called to either write, or read, such in-depth material. Yet the concept of research in the Christian world is very important. Without facts and figures, or understanding of trends, we cannot plan strategy or anything else. The papers listed here are often in-depth doctoral material. Some are quite old – we hear of surprisingly few new studies, yet research is vital. We encourage Bible Colleges and other groups to facilitate research projects in this area. One area on which there seems to be no online research is that of how to make church websites effectively reach out into the community.
Need for researchOne area in which there has been little or no research: the usability of evangelistic websites for non-Christian readers – not merely in terms of navigation and design, but specifically to avoid annoyance or lack of comprensibility, and how non-Christians handle the information presented to them. This small study on annoyance demonstrates one angle of inquiry.
- Two key resources for major research are the Christian Barna Group,
who issue reports on various aspects of spiritual life in USA, and the secular
Pew Internet looking at Internet usage
in USA. Despite their US-centric focus, many of their conclusions are valid for other parts of the world.
The largest ever global research project into people’s online activities and behaviour is the Digital Life study. Covering nearly 90 per cent of the world’s online population through 50,000 interviews with consumers in 46 countries, the study reveals major changes in the world’s online behaviour.
The secular World Values Survey offers ‘the world’s most comprehensive investigation of political and sociological change’, covering a wide range of countries. YouGov also results of panel surveys on questions in social, financial, political and consumer, for UK and several other countries; the social surveys frequently cover issues that can help us understand current attitudes and needs in our society.
- How Adults Become Christians
Dave Bennett, UK National Director of Bridge Builders (formerly Pocket Testament Leaque) conducted this study by interviewing a range of lasting adult convert regarding the factors that had brought them to faith. His main findings were that the majority of lasting conversions:
- took a long time – an average of about 2 years.
- spiritual journeys frequently started due to a felt need or life problem.
- the biggest factor by far, claimed by the respondents, was ongoing relationships with Christians, and seeing faith modelled in their lives. This far exceeded other factors such as reading books, tracts, even the Bible, or watching videos.
This underlines the importance for online initiatives of any type, of aiming to draw people into relationship, rather than some quick fix and instant gospel presentation. Each of the web-mediated testimonies on our site also demonstrate this. In several, there was a long period of email mentoring. In several there were different media involved together at different times – TV, film, and web. In one testimony (TV advert for PowertoChange.com), a couple made a phone response leading to a visit from a local church, due to an effective tie-in between the website team and the advertising program. In another, searching on the Web was a follow-on to seeing the Passion of the Christ film, and also based on considerable life issues (drugs). All our testimonies demonstrate the importance of having a well-run email mentoring system in place for inquirers and new believers.
- Reaching the Community with Church Websites
Ceri Longville, a student at Redcliffe Bible College in Gloucester UK, published her 2009 college dissertation on church websites. Having been involved in church web development, Ceri saw the clear need for research. Her study is a valuable insight into the potential for making church sites truly ‘outsider friendly’. She says, “While working as web developer of a church website, I could see the potential for it to be used as a tool to make the church more accessible and relevant to the non-Christian/unchurched folk in the local community.”
- The Role of Trust in Virtual Community Assimilation
This research article by Mike Morgan follows the conversion of a young woman through the Internet, and her subsequent discipling.
- Best Practices in Internet Ministry
A two-year survey of 300 different web ministries by David Bourgeois.
- E-vangelism: redefining evangelical identify in online global culture
Maura McCarthy studied Anthropology at New York University and later went to Oxford University (UK) to take an MPhil in Social Anthropology. This dissertation was written as part of her course. Her training and background have enabled her to address the subject from a sympathetic yet impartial viewpoint.
Maura’s interest is the way that Christians are using the Internet to communicate the Gospel. She analyzes what she calls the ‘adaptive’ strategy – that is: writing web-pages on a subject of secular interest, and then leading across to the Gospel. The equivalent term used in this site is the Bridge Strategy, which is similar to the concept of redemptive analogy. After defining the scope of the study, she goes on to briefly cover the history of Christian proclamation through earlier mediums: print, radio, TV, music, film and video. Then she looks in detail at the ‘adaptive’ approach, and defines it further as offering a ‘trap’ and an identity with the reader. Then we see how these sites are a transitional gateway from the reader’s interest group to the Gospel. She analyzes in detail five specific evangelistic sites that use this approach. Maura’s clear insight into the issues involved will greatly help anyone planning an evangelistic site to see and understand this vital ‘adaptive’ strategy: writing pages about the things that people want to read. You can also download this thesis as a Rich Text File (242k) – it prints at about 38 pages.
- Internet Evangelism Performance Report
The results of a 2007 pioneering survey that examines the way Christian organizations report and track the results and effects of their Internet Evangelism efforts.
- The Use of the Internet in Mission Amongst Young People in the UK Between the Age 11-16
Richard Bromley, a director of YFC in UK, wrote this MA dissertation.
- Communicating Christ on the Internet
Back in 1997, Rev. Dr. Arne H. Fjeldstad completed this doctoral dissertation at Fuller Theological Seminary’s School of World Mission. His dissertation topic was “Communicating Christ on the Information Superhighway”. These pages are the introduction to his dissertation. Written at very beginning of the Web’s mainstream life, and one of the first such studies, it is interesting to see how our perceptions of digital communication have changed in the following years.
- Embracing the Cyberchurch, by Andrew Careaga
An online magazine article by a key thinker on the roles of the Internet, church and evangelism. The changes which are coming about through the Web are significant and far-reaching. Another study of now mainly historical interest, dating from 1999.
- Raising Awareness of the Bible
Raising Awareness of the Bible in Contemporary British Society: A Case Study of Young Adults Who are Not Involved in a Faith Community This paper explores attitudes to the Bible among non-churchgoers in the UK. It focuses on a case study of young professionals, examining their familiarity with the Bible and their opinions of it. It evaluates the ways in which Church attempts to raise awareness of the Bible and asks how culturally relevant these approaches are to the people represented in the case study.
- World Christian Database
The World Christian Database (WCD) represents the core data from the World Christian Encyclopedia (WCE) and World Christian Trends (WCT). The WCD includes detailed information on 34,000 Christian denominations and on religions in every country of the world. Extensive data are available on 238 countries and 13,000 ethnolinguistic peoples, as well as data on 7,000 cities and 3,000 provinces. Statistics in the WCD represent a significant update of the data published in WCE/WCT in 2001. WCD is an initiative of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
- Does the Internet Make us Lonely?
One of the excellent (secular) Alertbox columns raising interesting comments on the interaction of the Web on society, with a link to a major study by Stanford Institute for the Quantitative Study of Society.
- ARDA - the American Religion Data Archive
Comprehensive data on religion surveys for USA and Canada.
- Eyetracking Study of Web Readers
This is one of the excellent series of Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox articles on issues relating to usability and communication on the Web. He often cites research studies to back up his conclusions.
- A PhD in Religious On-Line Communities
Research by Heidi Campbell – a compilation of papers on relating to religious community, communication, and spirituality. Now only available as a book.
- Christian Research - UK-based studies on the UK church, statistics, and social trends.
- Babies are hardwired for story and moral judgment
Remarkable series of cognitive experiments with small babies at Yale University, which show that babies as young as six months can:
- follow and understand a fictional narrative story
- make a moral judgment about the motives of the characters in the story
related pages within the Finding faith menu links
recommended books about communication including free downloads
valuable online videos about web ministry