Posts Tagged ‘internet ministry’

Confirmation model of evangelism

July 7th, 2010

15743423This is where people are brought into the church through a process or system defined by the church. This form has operated since the beginnings of Christianity.

The model is that Christians are introduced to the church by parents and are educated within the church about the Christian faith. At a certain point they are then asked to attend confirmation lessons which will, hopefully lead them into a deeper relationship with Christ. They are then confirmed within the church at a special service.

There can be little doubt that this has worked in the past in a more regular form of church. Of course going through a system doesn’t make you a Christian and can persuade someone who has no faith that because it all sounds nice and familiar they must have a faith.

Although the web doesn’t really have this form of evangelism on it the web can have a disruptive effect on this approach. As people explore what they believe it is possible to find all kinds of counter ideas on the web. This can disrupt what a church is teaching – especially where the person has not really had a personal encounter with Christ. The authority of the church is challenged and like all good post-modernists people start to question the churches authority to make a claim to absolute truth.

Churches that still want to use this form of evangelism must take account of what is happening in a world where people have instant access to the web. It is not enough to simply describe what is believed it is now important to give a good answer to why this is believed. But just having an answer to why it is believed is still not enough because now people also want to know if it works. In a society that defines itself by what it owns or possesses it is becoming important to show that the Christian faith is more than just an idea but it is an idea that has a positive effect on life.

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The ludicrous case of the lost links

January 21st, 2010

Do you ever visit web sites only to find that the page you wanted is missing? It happens when web masters (web slaves – or whatever you want to call them) either move a page so the site is less cluttered or because a page is now so out of date that a new one is required. If you change from a static site to a dynamic site (html to php or something) then you will inevitably mess up every link that existed prior to the change. Sometimes, of course, the link was never right in the first place.

So there are a couple of things it is wise to do to avoid such problems:

1) Be careful with your links and do your best to make sure they work – perhaps have a rolling program of checking your links (there is software that will do this and if you sign up for Google webmaster tools you get a report on duff links but my experience is that they are never perfect).

2) Set up a special 404 page. You can see the one I have made for this web site here (opens in new window). It is just a very simple page and you could put in a lot more detail (make sure you use absolute URLs though – e.g. full web address to any images etc. There are various ways of setting your site to use these pages and most good hosting companies will have a way to enable this to happen. Here is a way to do it if you are looking for the technical stuff (opens in new window).

So, there are ways around the problem and it pays to put in that little bit of extra effort to help your visitors.

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Mormon church sees technology as a good thing

October 20th, 2009

I’m not a Mormon myself and as a Protestant Christian I disagree with much of what they teach but they do seem to have grasped the idea behind technology. You can read a story about their latest efforts here.

According to Alexa Mormon web sites are amoung the most popular church web sites in the world (if not the most popular).

I think there is something to be learned by all Christian groups here:

  • embrace the technology and invest in it – the Internet is one of the most cost effective ways of sharing the Christian message
  • centralise efforts – it’s better to have several hard working sites that are well used and well funded than 1000s spread all over the place
  • encourage members to use the sites
  • have a plan

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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

Models for online ministry

May 13th, 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

I’m intending – from time to time – on this blog to explore models of online ministry. I know sometimes it’s better not to try and reduce everything down to a formula and just let God does His stuff, but I also believe God gave us a brain and we should use it whenever we can. Perhaps a model of ministry might help you decide the direction to take your website or ministry in.

I’m interested in six stages of successful change that psychologists have come up with because I think it could help with trying to understand how to form a model for online ministry. This process is outlined in the book “Changing forGood” by James Prochaska P.H.D., John Norcross P.H.D. and Carlo Diclemente P.H.D.

The stages are:

  • Precontemplation
  • Contemplation
  • Preparation
  • Action
  • Maintenance
  • Termination

If we can identify which stage people are in then perhaps we can respond to their needs more appropriately. It seems to me that many Christian websites try to get the attention of precontemplators (those with no interest, yet) when they should really be targetting the contemplators (those who are thinking about things) or even those in the preparation stage (gathering information, etc to help them make the change).

Precontemplators just don’t see the point and may well be quite anti. They are an important group of people to work with and may form the majority but if you are going to work with precontemplators then your focus needs to be to convince them that making a change is a good idea and not try and force the point of how they should change.

I hope this all makes sense. I’m sure there is going to be time to consider all this at another time.

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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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Who cares for their soul?

April 28th, 2009

One of the issues facing Christians online is the problem of helping Christians understand their faith. I’ve watched a lot of conversations on websites where Christians get engaged in very deep discussions. This is a good thing. However I’m sometimes disturbed by the lack of understanding of our own faith amongst some. Don’t get me wrong – I don’t believe that only those with training or superior knowledge should be allowed to talk about their faith online!!! Any Christian has the right to talk about their faith even if there ideas are not consistent with mainstream Christian belief.

However I am concerned that those with a responsibility to care for the souls of others don’t seem to be engaging with the Internet. I’m not saying that every clergy person should spend each day trawling the Internet looking for their members but perhaps there is a place for online chaplains. Perhaps there is a place for training people in ministry online who could then take some care to help those who are getting confused and upset.

There are many Christians who never go to church and yet they are willing to talk online about their faith. Perhaps instead of the church telling them they should come to the church – the church should go to them.

What are you thoughts? Should we have some kind of online chaplaincy?

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Building Rapport

April 23rd, 2009

One of the keys to a good online ministry is building rapport with people. Rapport is about having a relationship with another person(s) based on: trust, harmony, understanding and mutual respect. Without rapport people will not listen to the message that you are trying to get across.

Building rapport is notoriously difficult online but the better you can get at doing it the more effective your message will be. To develop rapport it is important to treat people online as equals. The moment you talk down to someone or indicate that if they think differently they are stupid you have lost the chance of reaching them. I think that the injunction to treat others as you would like to be treated is spot-on for the Internet (as of course it should be anywhere).

If you want people to listen to you then you must be prepared to listen to them. If you are not interacting with people online but just presenting a message then you need to try and listen to the kinds of people who will use your site and the kinds of things they will want to ask or say.

Humour must also be carefully looked at. Humour rarely comes accross well on the Internet (or in email) unless someone knows you well or you are a genius. Please be very careful about how you use it.

Do you have any ideas for ways of building rapport online? Why not share them in a comment.

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Using Twitter to reach others

April 22nd, 2009

I must confess that up till now I’ve not been a great fan of Twitter. I’m not one of those people who likes others to know about every detail of everything I’m doing and some research suggests that this ‘lighter’ approach to relationships might be detremental to some people. I think that is somewhat of an extreme view and is probably only true for those who mistake a twitter relationship with a real one.

Anyway Twitter is very popular and is a great way for Christians to build relationships with others, which of course has to be the basis for any outreach efforts. I came across this blog the other day which is an excellent introduction to the world of Twitter Outreach (Tweach perhaps?).

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Ministry on the web

April 20th, 2009

The world has changed a lot since I first started the web Christian ministry. Back then there were few Christian websites and even fewer Church websites. Some of the needs have not changed at all and there is still a big demand for help with church websites. However as more and more Christians use the Internet the demand for ministry online has rocketed. Because of my experience in ministry as well as the web I thought I might share some of my thoughts on a blog.

So the scope of webchristian is changing a little. We will still seek to support Christians who are trying to get a website up and running but we will also now include web ministry. I hope this will cover all aspects of Christian ministry including: caring for Christians, evangelism, apologetics, etc.

Why not share some of your own thoughts on this blog?

What challenges and opportunities do you think the churches faces on the Internet?

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