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Archive for the ‘online ministry’ Category

Social Media Ministry

February 16th, 2011

Manifest Presence Evangelism

October 19th, 2009

Manifest presence evangelism is based on the idea that being in the presence of God is going to be life changing. This often involves inviting people to a worship meeting where you know that the presence of God is going to be felt in a very powerful way. It then doesn’t matter that the worship may seem strange to those from outside who come because God will move in their hearts.

It is very obviously a good thing for people to be in the presence of God and I would have no problem with this approach except for one simple thing. If people are not open to the presence of God then some kinds of worship can seem so strange and alien to them that it turns them off.

It’s been my privilege over the years to worship in many different places. I’ve been in very lively charismatic meetings right through to high anglican and Roman Catholic worship. My own feeling is that there is something to be gained from all these styles and yet occasionally I go to worship at a place which feels weird even for me. It’s very difficult to sense the presence of God when you are feeling very uncomfortable being in a certain environment.

I think perhaps this is similar to the way Pharaoh felt when Moses was going on about letting his people go and we read that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened.

How does this translate to a web site?

This is a very difficult question to answer. People will have experiences of being in the presence of God whilst they are on the Internet but they won’t experience the presence of God in the same way they might in a crowd of worshipers. Any attempt to replicate worship online that might generate the feelings of the presence of God in worship might be accused of being manipulative.

However the experience of watching many people worshiping when you don’t have to participate as if you were there (and hence feeling uncomfortable) might work well.

This model of evangelism really does mean that people would need to be open to Christianity in the first place – especially on the Internet.

online ministry

Christian apologetics

September 21st, 2009

19392014I love to read philosophy. I can’t say I understand it all and I have trouble remembering all the isms but it doesn’t stop me getting pleasure from the challenge of thinking. But does this process have any part in trying to get the message of Jesus out to others? Is there a need for websites that answer the tough questions or should we just be loving people into the kingdom?

This is a really hard question to answer but I think the answer is that part of loving someone is helping them to understand. I would be a poor parent if I neglected to answer the questions that they ask about the world.

I don’t for a minute think that anyone will ever become a Christian by arguing with them. There is more to being a follower of Jesus Christ than simply understanding the answers. There will be no theology quiz at the pearly gates.

However there are some big questions that keep people away from following Jesus. If Christians don’t take answering those questions seriously then we are failing to help people. It is not enough to tell people that the questions don’t matter because for some people they really do.

One of the places that people go to for answers is the Internet, this is particularly true of those who are growing up with the Internet. The Christian church must take this seriously.

So I want to make an appeal for more and more websites that answer the questions. We must engage with people on the Internet in a serious way.

online ministry, Thoughts

Social Interaction Model

September 17th, 2009

Table of contents for Models of online ministry

  1. Models for online ministry
  2. Does the attraction model of ministry work for the Internet?
  3. Conforming Outreach
  4. Social Interaction Model

Here is another form of ministry that I’ve come across. The idea is essentially that Christians make friends outside of church. This friendship then gives opportunities for others to see the difference that Jesus is making in a persons life. This should lead to opportunities to reach out to them with the Christian message.

There are several good points about this idea:

Christians should be interacting with people outside the church anyway.

Most people who become Christians do so because of a friend and so the more friends we have the better chance this method has.

It gives Christians a way of reaching out to others that is pretty comfortable for most people.

The disadvantages are:

People often give friends who are different from themselves a kind of honorary membership to their social circles. This means that they appreciate someone might be a Christian but they don’t let this knowledge get in the way of a friendship. They still see all other Christians as weirdos.

People still need to understand that you are a Christian. It is surprising how many people are often unaware that friends are committed Christians.

Sadly too often Christians simply conform to fit in which means that they do not have a difference for anyone to notice. If we fit in too well then we have a negative effect on peoples concepts of what Christianity is.

How does this fit in with online ministry?

We have seen a rise in social networking over the last decade or so. This has become a major player in how people interact on the Internet. It is certainly true that this is a great way of keeping in touch with existing friends.

However there is difficulty in using the Internet to form new relationships. Somehow electronic relationships just aren’t the same as personal ones.

The Internet will never replace personal relationships but it can serve as a way to bring like minded people together.

Most Christians (with Internet access) could find groups to which they could belong on the Internet. Then it is possible using links to other sites etc to encourage people to think about faith.

This might prove to be a positive way of promoting the Christian faith.

However it should be noted that putting social networking apparatus on a Christian website is unlikely to have the desired results. Christians will need to make use of sites that people already use to reach out.

online ministry

Turn the other cheek on your website

September 11th, 2009

15614272I have a lot of times that I have to contact churches and so see a great number (in the hundreds) of websites on a regular basis. I’m always surprised by the number of churches that hide their email address or even don’t have one.

It’s always seemed to me that the most important part of any church website is the contact page. People come to your site,  not to look at pictures of your new pew refurbish, but to find out how to contact you or when something is happening.

Now you might be getting all hot under the dog collar (if you are a clergy person – read just collar if you are not) thinking that the issue is all about spam.

“We don’t want to have our email boxes blocked up with offers of herbal wonder drugs and we certainly don’t want to have to read emails about someone called Doris who wants to make contact and so has attached a picture of herself”.

However I think this is one of those times that Christians have to turn the other cheek for the sake of being available.

No-one wants to get spam (I bet even spammers moan about it when they get it from others) and some of it is pretty crude if not downright offensive but sometimes we have to put up with the filth so we can allow those who need us to reach us.

Some sites use forms in an effort to get around spam but if you have a contact form you will know that you get spam from the form anyway – or at least you do if your site is getting reasonable traffic (and if it isn’t then the spammers probably won’t be bothered with you anyway).

All the research I read says that people like to use their own email system instead of a form. People like to have a record of the email they sent and a record of the email address they sent it to.

So let me make an appeal to Christian webmaster – put your email address on your website.

If you are a timid person who is scared stiff that a spammer might get to you then use a spam filter. If you have a little technical ability you can use a javascript that will stop spammers but allow others to email you. If you are still really nervous then use an image with a funny font.

But for my part I think Christians just have to take it on the chin, turn the other cheek, get thicker skinned about the world to give the lost sheep a way to find their way home.

online ministry ,

Remember that everyone who visits your site is a person

June 25th, 2009

In my youth I loved gadgets. I thought that the best T.V./Stereo/Camera/etc was the one with the most lights and if they flashed in different colours it was like going to heaven. I then learned that perhaps the best ones might be the ones with the least amount of flashy lights – after all if they need flashy lights perhaps it’s to cover up how bad they are. I now know that it has nothing to do with the lights at all – it is how good they work. There is still a bit of me that likes the flashy lights though!

One of the things it is easy to forget is that a web site is not about features it is in fact about people. I visit an awful lot of web sites (and believe me some of them are awful) and too often they seem to revolve around the gadgets. I get this a lot from customers as well who always want the latest gadget that they heard about on the T.V.

The point is that gadgets are nice but only if they help you get the message of your web site across.

A web site is about the people who will read it and not the technology. Too often gadgets and new “features” get in the way of the message itself.

Perhaps I’m just getting old but for me the importance of the Internet is not the technology that drives it but the people it connects.

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Is it possible to do church on the Internet?

June 16th, 2009

There seems to be an assumption among some churches that there is a need to get worship onto the Internet. Now don’t get me wrong because I love a bit of good worship but I think sometimes we miss the point that just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should.

I’ve seem lots of attempts to get worship on the Internet and most of it seems to be aimed at getting non-Christian or nominal Christians to join in. However I think there are some big questions that need as answer.

1. Can people participate in collective worship online?
I’m not really convinced that many churches have worked out what collective worship is when they do it in their own building and so really struggle when it comes to getting it online. Can people worship together with others when the only connection is through wires? What is participation in worship? What is worship anyway?

2. Is the Internet capable of delivering what is required?
I’m not personally convinced that it is – yet. The Internet is, after all, a collection of people using computers to join together. Do the computers get in the way or do they help? Most efforts seem to revolve around streaming video but surely this is nothing more than a cheap and convenient way of doing T.V. – perhaps there is something more that the Internet could offer. I’ve also seen efforts where people are expected to type a prayer on the keyboard. Is this really collective worship? Doesn’t this reduce worship to an action rather than a state of heart and mind?

I think the Internet is a great way of getting a message out to others but I sometimes wonder if we are missing the boat? Should Christians concentrate more on what can be done rather than trying to force the issue by trying to do something that the technology is just not capable of delivering.

I’m still thinking all this through so I’d welcome some of your thoughts. I fear I have raised more questions than given answers.

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Another way to use Twitter in ministry

May 6th, 2009

Twitter seems to be everywhere at the moment. Here is another way to use this technology to enhance your worship:

http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1895463,00.html

online ministry , ,

Simple designs work best

May 6th, 2009

One of the frustrations with the Internet is that it is always changing and developing. Whilst this kind of development is usually good sometimes it makes us a little lazy.
In the good old days (about 10 years ago – ancient history on the Internet) sites had to be built using the very smallest of images and the very least amount of html. As broadband becomes more and more available the stringent rules we all used to follow have become a little more relaxed. Where I once had to handcode all the html for a site I now use software and very seldom have to code a site using just html. I see this as generally a good thing.

However there is one rule that I think should always apply (and this will be forever): keep it simple.

The Internet always has been about speed. Those people who don’t mind waiting are those who are wanting to be entertained. Unless your viewers are looking for entertainment then you will have to deal with the speed issue.

From a design perspective I’ve always believed that the simple designs are the best. The design of a site is not its most important reason to exist and if your site is all design and no content people will very soon get fed up and go elsewhere. You might win an award for the way the site looks but it won’t make people use your site. You do want people to use your site don’t you?

However although I advocate simple designs I do advocate some design. The design should help people find the content. This something where an awful lot of church sites fall down.

So make sure you have a design but keep that design simple.

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Should Christians have their own website?

April 30th, 2009

I quite regulalry get asked by Ministers/Priests/Pastors the question of ‘should I have my own website?’, in fact I was asked this question the other day. It is always asked for best of reasons and often the person concerned feels very self-conscious about the thought of having one.

Let me paraphrase something that Jesus once said: it’s not having a website that makes someone unclean but the reasons for having one might.

A website is just a set of electronic files that others can view using the right kind of hardware/software it is not good or bad. However what the website promotes or says is a very different matter – this is always down to the person who runs the site and not the technology that drives it.

If you want a website because you want everyone to see how great you are then this is a bad reason to have a website. If you want a website because you have a message burning in your heart that you belive God wants you to get to as many people as possible then this is a good reason for a website.

However one thing that people often misunderstand about websites is how many people can/want to see them. Just because you have a website it doesn’t mean everyone in the world will see it or even want to see it.

It is quite possible to have a website that is linked to nothing and that is blocked from prying search engines. Or you could have a site (with say your sermons on) that is accessible only through one link on a church website and which is blocked from search engines.

So I think every church should have a website and every minister should as well. This allows you to get the message God gives you across without it being tied to a particular church or organization. I believe God calls ministers as people to the whole church and not just a local congregation – if you have a different view to God’s calling then you will probably reach a different conclusion.

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