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Does the pda (iphone, andriod, palm, pocket pc, etc) change the web for Christians?

May 12th, 2010
mobile phone web user

Christian web for the mobile phone?

Having a small computer with telephone attached, that you can carry around with a diary and contacts, etc on it has certainly changed the things. We don’t even have to wait to access the web any more but instead can make use of those spare moments we have to catch up on things. I must confess at this point that I’m one of those old fashioned types who likes to use spare time for thinking and reflecting but I understand that I’m on my way to becoming a ‘thing of the past’.

However, the web becomes a different kind of thing if you access it through a mobile phone. Many phones use a text based approach to web sites and this makes many web sites unusable and others that use a kind of miniature web browser allow you to access most sites but on a small part at a time.

What is kind of strange is that this seems to me to be going back to the old web days when many sites were text based and small (to suite the average sized monitor).

Of course it is possible using style sheets to create a site that will work differently on different platforms but experience tells me that this is easier said than done (it is still not that easy to lay out a site that will work the same on ‘normal’ computers let alone making them also work for mobiles.

Of course social networking sites work fairly well on a mobile.

I don’t personally think that we will stop using full sized computers for the web (in fact with the rise of video streaming etc we are more likely to be using even bigger screens in the future) but we will also now have to consider users with mobile phones.

So how does this change things for the Christian web?

It doesn’t – other than we limit ourselves if we produce stuff only for the regular web. But I also think it gives us yet another opportunity.

At present people access the web on a mobile in a very limited way – social networking, email, directories, etc. They generally want information or to respond quickly to something. People are not spending hours on end surfing the web on a mobile (at least not most people). So how can Christians make good use of the web that works with this rather than demands people to change behaviour to engage?

Online Evangelism , , ,

Facebook Ads fill church

February 22nd, 2010

Came across a story about a church (in USA) that used Facebook Adverts as a way to bring people to their church for their Christmas celebrations.

You can read about it here …

I think they did this in just the right way and here are my suggestions for why this worked

  1. They had a specific even to invite people to
  2. They used Christmas as an event that people want to celebrate (I can never understand why churches don’t advertise more around Christmas)
  3. They were prepared to spend money (you have to be prepared to spend on ventures like this – by all means set a budget but unless you are prepared for spending at least a reasonable amount you will find that your adverts won’t seen enough to be effective).
  4. They issued tickets (this gives people a reason to respond and you must encourage people to respond in some way otherwise they will take the “that’s interesting I might go to that” approach but of course they then forget about it or something else pushes your event out of the way.
  5. Afterwards they encouraged people to come to regular church events (I am often amazed when special church events offer no encouragement to visit regular church – seems like a very basic thing to do and by all accounts a lot of people are just waiting to be asked).

Have you used Facebook Ads and did they work?

Online Evangelism , ,

Web Evangelism Training

February 16th, 2010

I came across this training programme for web evangelists the other day. It’s a free course and covers quite a bit of ground. Some of it is basic training in evangelism so it is coming from a starters point of view rather than an experienced evangelists point of view but it’s pretty easy to skip past the bits you already know.

You can see it here …

Online Evangelism

Social Psychology Evangelism

February 9th, 2010

I came across an interesting pdf that gives some insite in to how social psychology can inform us about evangelism.

Here are the main points:

  1. Teens and early 20′s are formative years.
  2. Attitudes influence behaviour.
  3. Attitudes follow behaviour.
  4. Credible and attractive communicators have more impact.
  5. Personal persuasion is more effective than media persuasion.
  6. Ineffective appears can be worse than none at all
  7. Vivid concrete examples are more potent than abstract information.
  8. Messages that relate to what people know or have experienced are better remembered.
  9. Spaced repetition aids memory.
  10. Active processing boosts persuasion.
  11. Group discussion generally strengthens shared convictions.
  12. We join groups, in part, to enhance our self image.

You can see the full pdf here

Of course there is much more to be said about each point and I don’t think any of the points will be a surprise to those who study communication but they are still important for Christians to understand in any evangelism situation, not least the Internet.

I feel the first point is particularly relevant to the mainline churches in the UK who mostly don’t have people of that age in them. These people are on the Internet however.

Online Evangelism

Christmas on your web site

December 15th, 2009

If you run a church web site then one of the important things to do is to get the Christmas information up on it. The problem then, though, is how do you get the information up early enough so it will get listed by the search engines? Here are some of my tips:

1. Leave the page on the site all the time.

It is tempting to think that Christmas is over and so we want to get rid of the Christmas web page. I suggest that instead of removing it you simply change it to reflect the fact that we are between Christmas at the moment. So have a Christmas page that is obviously about Christmas but take off the old details. This will encourage the search engines (who to be honest don’t care if it’s Christmas or not) to index the page.

2. Get some good keywords on the Christmas page.

Include things like your location (town or city) on the page and headings for what kinds of things you do over Christmas. Good keywords might include: carols, children’s party, party, crib service, carol service, etc.

3. Update the page

As soon as we start getting closer to Christmas start to change the content of the page. There don’t need to be big changes but just make some changes. Search engines like pages that change and so if your’s is then it will help.

Christmas is arguably the biggest event available to churches to encourage people to think about the Christian faith. Although we might think easter is more important when it comes to Christmas we have a brilliant opportunity to tell people about Jesus.

If any business in the world had their product being talked about in the way that Christians do at Christmas they would throw everything they have at it. Why do we do any less?

Online Evangelism

Should Christian websites have links pages?

October 30th, 2009

I’ve seen a move away from links pages over the years. One time it was pretty rare to find a website without some kind of links page but now it seems to be getting more rare to find one that has. I think the business world has traditionally frowned on them because they can take people away from a business to other businesses. Then also the search engines seemed to get it in their heads that loads of links away from a website showed that the website was not so important.

I never quite got that argument and I fear it may just be something made up somewhere on the Internet that became true without any real basis. Of course I do know that some folks tried to cheat the system by building sites that did nothing but list lots of links that were of a reciprocal nature. This would boost the links site to the top of the search engines. So search engines found ways around the system by being suspicious of reciprocal links.

Then there is the age old problem that if others find out you have a links page you might get spammers trying you to get to link to them. All this meant that fewer sites wanted to bother with links pages. However the Internet is all about links. The great benefit of the way the Internet works is because you can follow links to gain the information you want.

The main source of finding information should not be through search engines but through links on important sites. Google understands this and is on a quest to find ways of boosting authority sites to the top of their rankings (then the rest of us spend our time trying to work out what Google means by an authority website so we can get a top ranking).

So I come to the point of my post.

Christian websites can help promote the Christian faith through their links pages. So Christian sites should have links pages and they should actively seek sites that they can add.

By linking Christian sites we both provide a way for people to find the sites we link to and we boost the search engine ranking of the site we link to. Of course it works best if you are an authority site yourself and you provide a one way link (e.g. not reciprocal) to the site. Reciprocal links tend to cancel each other out by all accounts.

Then when people search for issues relevant to Christianity it is the Christian stuff that will come out on top. I’m not advocating trying to trick the system but just that this is a way of doing mission online. However please try to ensure that you link to quality sites and not just any old site just because it is Christian.

Online Evangelism

Reaching those not interested in faith

October 28th, 2009

getting people to come to churchHere is a news story published on Christian Today about a scholar who says that we should harness new technology to reach out to people who are not yet interested in finding out about Christianity.

http://www.christiantoday.co.uk/article/scholar.churches.can.use.internet.to.reach.nonseekers/24446.htm

To me this seems pretty obvious really although I’m glad Dr Fischer-Nielsen has confirmed this to the church.

In particular he talks about the Internet and Social networking. The church has always known that most people come into the church through friendship with another. Social networking is simply another way of making friends. The problem would then be to get people from being friends on the Internet to get them to going to church. There is quite a move from an e-relationship to physically going somewhere.

And. of course, there is the problem that not all people who meet on the Internet are honest about who they are. I would strongly recommend that anyone considering this form of evangelism (especially young people) should take sensible precautions and never arrange to meet someone you have never physically met before on your own. I have to add this warning – and it seems from the news this morning that someone has been murdered by someone they met online. My thoughts go out to the family.

Getting back to online evangelism, taking the psychologists view of change they would fall into the pre-interested group. Those with no interest in finding out about God at all. These are quite possibly the smallest group in society and may be the toughest to work with. Yet they deserve to hear the gospel as much as anyone does. Personally I think the church spends too much of its effort (proportionally) on trying to engage people in this bracket and often neglects those who are seeking. This becomes pretty obvious when you see the rise in interest in alternative forms of religion and in my area the JWs are doing very well with lots of young families attending.

Sorry I’m getting off point. So how do you engage people who have no interest in Christianity. My idea would be this:

  1. Befriend them. Listen to them and ask them questions about themselves. Be genuinely interested in who they are and don’t do this just to try and convert them you have to genuinely want to befriend people.
  2. Offer to pray for them. Don’t talk about Jesus at this stage and don’t say anything more than offering to pray. When they say they have an issue to get over just simply offer to pray. You’ll find most people will welcome the offer. Also don’t assume you’ve lost your chance to evangelise them if they say no. Be patient and keep listening. If another problem comes along try again. You’ll have to be sensitive to their mood.
  3. If you are using a social network you may like to post the occasional message about going to church events, etc. Your e-friends will get to know that you are a Christian and will appreciate you not banging on about it or telling them they should find Jesus.
  4. Suggest they visit some of the Christian sites. But only when they have shown an interest. Let them initiate any conversation. If they ask you about your faith then be prepared to answer. It would be wise to have worked something out in advance (and something that will fit into 140 letters). When they ask don’t just fire off a quick response even if you have thought it through but instead leave a sensible pause so they can know that you are thinking about it. People are suspicious of those who fire off rapid responses to questions. And anyway you should pray before responding and give yourself some time to make sure your response is the right one. Then let them have a link to a good Christian website (I’d suggest my site about Jesus at http://www.jesuscourse.info if modesty didn’t stop me ;-) ) and offer to talk about if with them. Or why not offer to look at it with several of your friends at the same time? You don’t have to be an expert or agree with everything you read – you can always plead ignorance and offer to get a better response.
  5. When the time seems right – ask them if they would like to go to church. You will then have to look for a good church near them and possibly warn the church in advance that you are asking someone to attend. This will need to be your judgment call but some churches have special services for non-Christians that might be more appropriate that this Sundays service. Also you might look out for a church doing the Alpha course so you know there is another way for them to find out about Christianity.

Ultimately its going to be about friendship and sensitivity.

Online Evangelism ,