by Paul Getter 7/19/2011 / Computers/Technology
E-Vangelism~Online Evangelism- Why is it so necessary?
Fast-paced, busy, moving and always on the go; these are words that can often define our generation. The once miracle working microwave that could zap food in a matter of minutes, is no longer fast enough for us. At the push of a button, you be transported to a city across the sea. Zoom in on a satellite picture, see your house, your yard, and what is that? Someone left the garage door open again? (Thanks Google Streetview)
Find a hotel-Click, Done! Find a new pair of shoes-Click, Done! Find your long lost brother-Click, Done! Find God..Click, done.really? Obviously, we know that finding God is done by more than just clicking a button on the mouse. But, more and more people will peruse the internet in search for answers about their faith, spiritual direction and more importantly, a place to connect with people who have similar spiritual values. These places are what are traditionally referred to as "churches."
People are looking for churches on the internet? Yes, this is the generation that we are presently living in. On their laptops, desktops, iPhones and other devices, they are searching for God or at least a place where they can connect with God. There is a vast harvest of people that can be reached through E-vangelism.
E-vangelism? This is a growing form of evangelism that harnesses the resources given to us through the power of the internet. Churches all across the nation are beginning to realize that in many people's mind if you're not online, you do not exist. E-vangelism, outside of personal evangelism, is the number one reason for the steady flow of visitors at our church.
Here are a few ways that you can leverage your church into a greater presence online. In doing this, reaching more people with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
1. Have a welcoming website that reflects your church in a positive light.
Notice, it's more than just having a website. It's often said "no website is better than a bad website". That's right, if you have a bad website you would be better off taking it down and having no website at all! People will make a decision whether they attend or don't attend your church strictly based on your website.
Have a professional design your website. The young man who just purchased a new program for his computer and says "I can design a website" may not always be the best choice. In designing your website, the domain name is probably one of the most important elements of your website. The domain name is your website name or address. This is what people type in to be connected to your church website. One of the first questions you should ask yourself about your domain name is, "Will this name be easy for anybody to remember?"
With that being said, the average person, who does not attend church, may not remember how to spell Apostolic, Episcopalian, Presbyterianl, and other religious words found in your church's name. The shorter and most memorable the better.
Try selecting words like "church" and "yourcity".
(ie. www.churchnaples.com or www.churchgoldengate.com.) Names such as these will be easy for you and your community to remember. Note, a church can have more than one domain name.
2. Utilize social networks to connect with your community.
Over 500 million people are active users of Facebook (1). What an unbelievable amount of people that you could potentially connect with. Are some of them guys with profile pictures of young girls and Jennifer as their screen name? Sure, but there are even more that are young, thirty-something, urban families, surfing the internet looking for a church to attend. If you are visible and active on these social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Myspace, you can find yourself engaged and chatting with people who want to know more about NewLife Church (add me as a friend on Facebook). I cannot tell you how many times I've connected with someone on these online communities, only to see them later sitting in service with us.
Have someone that is savvy in this area create your church a fanpage or a friend page and start connecting to people. Connect to people you know and even, people you don't know. Pretty soon you will start to receive prayer request, questions about the bible and then a real live visitor in your church from a chat that started online.
3. Get the Word out with free media sites.
I think any pastor would be excited to see that nearly 100,000 people had watched a sermon you preached on Sunday morning. There were days, not too long ago, that ministries would pay huge amounts of money to make that possible. Now through sites such as Youtube and Livestream.tv, you can broadcast your church service live to multitudes around the world.
Get some good videos of your services, community outreach projects, and the events that define your church. Put them online and not only will people be able to watch these videos, but it also adds bridges for people to connect to your website, then to your church. Adding videos with essential words that define your videos is a great way to add extra avenues for people to find you online.
We must minister to our generation. The message remains the same, but the methods we use to reach this world must be flexible to meet people where they are today. If they are gathered in the parks having picnics, let's go to the parks. If they are in the malls walking the endless isles, let's go to the malls. If there are nearly 2 billion people(2) that could potentially click on your church, it's time to E-vangelize!
Use FaceBook to promote your upcoming events. You can make events and send invitations to thousands of people at once.
I've used Evangelist Craig ( www.Craigslist.org) to promote events and list free giveaways and have had hundreds of people respond to these listings.
After a website is created, submit it to all the popular search engines through sites such as www.addme.com . Within a few weeks people will be able to find you on the internet.
Invest a little money to promote your website with Google AdWords and Yahoo advertisement. Look around because you can find promotional codes to get you started for free.
Connect with as many sites as possible and be very active online. This will cause your website to climb up the ladder on the search engines. Sites such as www.churchangel.com are a great way to list your church for free.
(1) Zuckerberg, Mark (2010-07-21). 500 Million Stories
(2) Nielsen Online
Paul Getter pastors New Life Apostolic Church, a home missions church in Golden Gate, Florida. They launched one year ago and have seen exponential growth. One of their most recent services they had over 700 people in attendance. In addition, he is a full-time church consultant, specializing in website design and support. Most importantly he loves his lovely wife Melissa and three wonderful children Lukas, Markus and Alexis.