Did you know that digital technologies have changed how Christians across the globe share their faith?
From the way we do business to how we consume media; from how we prioritise our time, to where we spend our money, it wouldn’t be too much of an exaggeration to say the digital revolution has changed the very fabric of our world. Evangelism itself is in the throes of its own revolution, and no church or ministry can afford to ignore it. Why should you care? Here are five reasons why your church should seriously consider digital evangelism as part of the way you share the Good News today.
Your reach is wider than you may realise
When is the last time you considered the amount of influence you have online? Today, most of us have direct or indirect access to thousands of people through our social media accounts, and it’s easy to forget just how revolutionary this idea would have seemed a few short years ago. Not only that: powerful media platforms now allow you to target very specific groups of people with very specific messages. You may not be able to rent a stadium like Billy Graham, but your church community can share Christian faith with thousands by simply using your existing social media networks in a targeted campaign.
It’s still personal, even though you may be far away
Some critics bemoan the fact that an instant messaging world comes at the cost of deep personal relationships and authentic interaction. There may be an element of truth to that, but there are also unique opportunities: we’ve noticed an interesting trend in our faith-sharing app yesHEis. We assumed that most people would share the evangelistic videos widely, say, on their Facebook profile. But the opposite happened: most of the sharing happens one-to-one. In other words, people are using messaging platforms to send specific content to specific friends, based on the specific issues they’re dealing with. They’re not just broadcasting random messages but sharing their faith in highly personal ways. While not a replacement for in-person engagement, digital tools allow us to break into the lives of others as if we’re in the same room.
There are no physical boundaries
Studies show that digital communities often transcend real-world borders: they encourage relationship building beyond geographical, racial, social, and other barriers. A world of instant messaging apps and on-the-fly conversations offers countless possibilities to build and grow relationships that would otherwise have been impossible. Communicate the Gospel to your entire network at once? Entirely possible. Share the Good News with someone outside your circle of friends? No problem. The digital world is without boundaries in a physical and spiritual sense.
Raising a new generation of mobilised Christians
It’s no secret that Millennials and Gen Z have been particularly enthusiastic in their adoption of social media, and it’s changing the way they share their faith. A recent Barna Group study revealed that 58% of Millennials believe digital platforms have made sharing their faith easier. And it’s making a real difference: the same study showed that more than 50% of respondents who were recently told about Jesus, heard the Gospel from friends on Facebook (14% mentioned other social media platforms).?? The digital revolution is facilitating changing attitudes to evangelism.
None of us will escape the societal changes
You may have heard of technologies like Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing. You may even be a tech nut who reads up about neural lace technologies and other forms of digital magic. But for all the talk about digital tech’s influence on the world, we’ve only just taken the first steps on a journey that is set to fundamentally change the way people relate to each other. Here’s a question: What does it look like to be the church in a world where modes of communication have been fundamentally altered by technology? Those answers aren’t clear at this stage. But one thing is certain: the individuals and ministries that will thrive in that brave new world; the churches that will communicate the Gospel effectively in 2040; will be the ones that are courageous enough to experiment right now.