Reaching those not interested in faith
Here 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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.