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Strategic Digital Outreach

Should We Include A Gospel Presentation On Our Website?

Think Christian, which is well worth adding to your list of regular blogs to read, is talking about whether or not a Christian blog should have a gospel presentation.

So I’m curious what you think about this. Does your blog have a Gospel presentation, and why or why not? Does it seem strange to you that a Christian blog wouldn’t have a link to a Gospel presentation? And lastly, can you suggest any online Gospel presentations that might serve as a good model for such a thing?

Not surprisingly, most of those who have commented are in favor of including a gospel presentation. Perhaps just as not surprising (is that good grammar? — it doesn’t sound right), I’m going to suggest a different perspective.

That perspective will no doubt be unpopular with many believers, but I am convinced that it at least deserves consideration.

I am an advocate for internet evangelism (both through this blog and through my involvement with a few organizations related to internet evangelism). At the same time, I believe strongly that an ongoing demonstration of authentic Christian community is the foundation of all effective outreach.

I have come to this conclusion through contemplating John 17:21-23 where Jesus says that if we are one, then the world will know that the Father loves them and that the Father sent Jesus (which I take to include an understanding of why He sent His Son).

I believe the converse is true: if we are not one (seen by the unbeliever in the ongoing demonstration of authentic Christian community in a local area), then the world will not know that the Father loves them and they will not know that the Father sent Jesus. If they don’t know those two things, how can they be saved?

I believe what is missing from most internet evangelism approaches is just that - a demonstration of authentic Christian community. Further, I don’t believe online outreach can provide that demonstration, at least not in full measure. Digital efforts can be supplemental, but nothing can replace the face-to-face community inherent in the church.

With that as background, it seems to me that most online gospel presentations have conversion as their goal. That is not my goal in my internet evangelism efforts. Instead, my primary objective is to intrigue an unbeliever enough (primarily through the stories of real people in our congregations) that they will want to join us in face-to-face community. They will be evangelized in the midst of that community. Obviously, there are exceptions to this approach — primarily in creative access nations, but I trust my general perspective is clear.

If my primary objective in internet evangelism efforts is to intrigue the unbeliever enough to want to meet believers in face-to-face community, will an online gospel presentation accomplish that? Probably not. In fact, in some cases, it may discourage that.

So my preferred approach is to not include a gospel presentation but to instead focus on the stories of real people (not religious testimonies, but broader life stories which demonstrate how a person’s relationship with Christ touches every facet of their lives) and strongly encourage face-to-face contact between unbelievers who read a church or ministry website and those real people who have been profiled.

Thoughts?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/21/06 at 06:10 PM
The Collective Voice!
Les Ey continues the discussion:

Hi, I wonder if it the best idea would be to encourage diverse approaches to evangelism on the Internet?
I run a blog site under my own personal domain name so I get to look at the log stats and see what people have Googled in order to find my website.
What I have found is that people are typing in an incredible range of questions, such as
‘How do I become a Christian?’
‘Can God forgive me for …?’
‘Why should I go to Church?’
‘Is God real?’
even
‘Does God want me to become a Pastor?’

Basically, the kind of questions that get asked at an Alpha course.
I absolutely agree with you that the best goal is to draw these people into a community of believers ‘face to face’ and I try my best to encourage people to find a Church that will look after them but people have learned to use the Internet as a research tool. They are researching spiritual topics on the Net and I would prefer them to find a website where they get good answers.
I think the best way of doing that is writing articles that match search queries and using the language that unchurched use.
However just because I relate to unchurched people this way does not men that my strategy is the only way to go since another strategy is likely to reach people that my strategy does not.

Les.

contributed on 01/06 at 09:54 PM
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) continues the discussion:

Les - thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.

I agree with you that people are searching for answers to questions such as the ones you have cited in your comment. I agree that people are searching online for those answers. And I agree that we should be answering them online.

My point about not including a gospel presentation has more to do with what we do after answering people’s questions. Do we proceed immediately to a gospel presentation that has as its goal the immediate conversion of the reader (without any face-to-face interaction with believers)? Or do we find a way for those who are looking for answers to be immersed into Christian community (which I believe is the normative pattern we see in the Scriptures)?

I know it’s a huge paradigm shift to the way we typically do things, but I dream of a network of believers committed to internet evangelism who are located around the world. When someone visits a Christian website and contacts us regarding questions, we would have an easily searchable database of people at our fingertips to whom we could refer them. We could engage in online chats with the person asking the questions, but also bring in someone in their local area to join the conversation. This would provide a natural way to facilitate the face-to-face relationships I talked about in this article.

Thanks again for stopping by - I really appreciate your contribution.

Frank

contributed on 01/07 at 10:27 AM
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