What Can We Say to the IE Day?

Yesterday I told you the story of the days when i was a fundamentalist street preacher with a handful of tracts, accosting passers-by and occasionally standing on boxes in public places to shout the gospel. What i didn’t tell you is that those methods were NOT VERY EFFECTIVE and I, being more strategic than nostalgic, explored other more relational and culturally acceptable ways to tell my story and share my gift.

Preacher2-1

I still like guys like this street preacher. There must be a place for them.

Today, obviously, the internet is becoming a primary place to swap stories and influence each other. Those who are fluent in newmedia-speak and values probably have a lot to share with the whole church about the opportunities and pitfalls of evangelism on the web. Maybe we shouldnt keep that to ourselves this year? Maybe Steve Addison has a point in asking if the emerging church has a problem with evangelism?

On a recent post called “What is the Gospel?”, Tony has left a comment here a week ago about the Internet Evangelism Day (May 7).

“May I pick up on the comments on Internet Evangelism Day. Of course, I may be partial, being the IE Day coordinator!

And yes, IE Day is for Christians to learn, not (on this occasion at least) to go and do.

And yes, I’d strongly agree that ‘aggressive proselytizing’ is usually negative and indeed counter-productive. There are certainly some cringeworthy sites around.

I do feel caught between a rock and a hard place too, in talking about ‘strategies’ because it sounds impersonal. On the one hand, there are people who just say ‘preach it’, on the other those who feel it is non-relational.

In fact, I am entirely with the emerging emphasis on relationship. If you read our page on the IE Day about
using blogs for evangelism, you’ll see that the ‘strategy’ (if you want to call it that), is to just build relationships and live out your life transparently through the blog.”

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Likewise, if you check our stories of people who found God online (and indeed just about most Christians’ life stories anywhere), you will note the unifying factor – which we also highlight on the site – that in each case, it was ongoing email mentoring relationships over a period that helped these people on their spiritual journeys.

The idea that the web can be some sort of blanket tract distribution system, which just ‘works on its own’ and garners ‘decisions’ is in most cases just invalid.

The novel ‘The Gospel Blimp’ , though written a good few years ago, illustrates the same basic truth.

It’s also true that people learn about anything, be it the gospel or whatever, through relational interaction rather than one-way proclamation. See:

Adult Learning.

Another thing I like to use is the Gray Matrix, which displays visually where people are on their spiritual journeys, and therefore gives us insights as to what is appropriate in our relationship with them:
Gray Matrix.

So – I’m saying that emerging insights are particularly valuable in understanding how we can best share with people online! And that the post-modern nature of the web is particularly in tune with these.”

Andrew

Andrew Jones has been blogging since 1997. He is based in San Francisco with his two daughters but also travels the globe to find compelling stories of early stage entrepreneurs changing their world. Sometimes he talks in the third person. Sometimes he even talks to himself and has been heard uttering the name “Precious” :-)

11 Comments

  • “Today, obviously, the internet is becoming a primary place to swap stories and influence each other.”
    andrew, do you have any stats on what % of people on the planet actually use the internet frequently (frequently enought to swap stories and influence/be influenced)? i’m interested to get a better sense of the #’s and demographics we are talking about with IE.
    peace.

  • Perhaps one of the best things the EC can contribute to IE Day is to share how to write well, how to tell stories online, and any other blogging tips that would remove hindrances from effective online communication.
    I’m not interested in learning how to share a specific “Gospel presentation” or anything of that sort. If you have Jesus in you, you need to let him out. If he’s not coming out naturally, then method and technique will not help. Perhaps EC bloggers can share some of their thoughts on writing and story-telling.
    For example, I have made a serious attempt to eliminate the words “should” and “need to” in my posts. We really need to get rid of them because they sound preachy. I also avoid writing to my audience in the seond person when possible. When you do this it sounds very impersonal and almost confrontational. You make it the reader’s problem and not something we (first person plural) are working on together.
    You should work on these kinds of things in order to make your posts more “reader-friendly.” ; )

  • Andrew, I didn’t know you were an old “street preacher”. For those who have never tried it, they “should” (sorry, Ed).
    Seriously, I agree with the emergent relational approach. Some of us were advocating that prior the current use of ’emergent’.
    But, isn’t methodology best when it is culture specific? I know one, a very close friend whom we buried last week, who spent his life in this kind of ministry. He took people to Central America and worked with and through a local congregation there. His ministry produced over 100 missionaries (traditonal use of the word) who got their introduction to cross-cultural evangelism by going with him. His approach to church planting has produced at least 28 churches (again, traditional sense). The initial church is now sending missionaries to other Latin American countries and has plans to begin an orphanage. They are intentional in all they do.
    This is simply to say that methods are methods. Even some ‘non-methods’ are in fact, methods. I would push back on the use of ‘aggessive proselytizing’ as a synonym for this kind of evangelism. That may be the way it appears to some, but it lends itself to judgment of intent.
    Like yourself, this is no longer a method I use in most countries. But for those who do and do so in the proper context, I agree with you: I like those guys.

  • thats right
    and the soapbox method can actually work in the right country or context. i am not against it.
    in fact, when i see large city buildings at night, and blank spaces, i often feel like bringing out my projector and taking over a public wall with a VJ driven evangelistic presentation – whatever that would comprise.

  • Can someone explain what strategic evangelism actually is and what these conferences you go to are about Andrew?
    I’ve meant to ask for a while cos it doesn’t make much sense to me.

  • I to used to do a lot of “street evangelism”. we would stop random people on the street and try and get into a conversation about God. It was not very effective if effectiveness means counting people who got “saved”. I do however think it was effective dealing with a lot of the misconseptions people have about God, Jesus the church etc.
    I don’t think this form of evangelism is appropriate in most of the UK today, so don’t look for me to volunteer if your hitting the streets. I do however wonder it the “function” of internet evangelsim will be similar to that of the street evangelsim I used to participate in. That is we can help clear away the rubbish (i.e. wronf ideas about God, the church etc) that is in the way of people starting a journey with Jesus.

  • I remember that loudhailer guy! “Don’t be a sinner, be a winner” was his favourite phrase… I recall 🙂
    I used to go to The Salvation Army on Oxford Street and would always hear this guy when I came out.

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