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.
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:
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.”