When Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations,” His followers understood they would have to walk to the nations. For John Wesley, preaching the Gospel meant riding on horseback for 250,000 miles (That’s 400,000 Km!). To the 20th century evangelist, sharing the Good News Meant riding in cars, trains, boats, and airplanes. Today, we can witness to the “uttermost parts of the earth” right from our computers, tablets, or smartphones.
An Online “Agora”
The ancient Greeks called their marketplaces "agoras." Located at the central part of town, an agora was the main meeting place, the hub of business, gossip, news, and relationships. In ancient days, if you wanted to buy fish or know the latest news, you would walk to the agora. This is where Paul and others would often preach.
In the global village we live in today, the internet – particularly online social networks – have become a virtual agora where we interact with others, buy and sell goods and services, read the news, form opinions, learn, and share our lives. As a communal gathering for the exchange of ideas, the internet is an ideal place to fulfill the Great Commission and make disciples of all nations.
How to Spread the Gospel Online
Many Christian individuals and organizations are doing this right and reaching people with cultural relevance, sensitivity, and power. At the same time, bad internet evangelism is going on, too. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be part of the first group. Here are seven simple tips to ensure you create a positive and relevant presence on the web, and engage non-believers when sharing your faith online.
Connect. Remember, on the other side of every post, chat, instant message, meme, and video is a real human being – an individual for whom Christ died and who needs to hear the Good News, possibly for the first time ever.
Focus. Listening is the most important part of communication. Focusing on this general principle applies to your communication on the internet as it does for offline interactions.
Respect. Never overestimate people’s knowledge or underestimate their intelligence. Biblical words, characters, and events familiar to you may be unknown to those who don’t profess the Christian faith. On the other hand, trying to manipulate or patronize people may drive them away.
Be Authentic. In a day when many people embellish their Facebook profiles and publish edited versions of themselves, it is important to be the real "you." Don't pretend to be someone or something you are not.
Be Consistent. Remember your overall web presence (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) is public and virtually impossible to delete. It is important to have a good witness for Christ in all online interactions to avoid contradicting the Message we proclaim.
Ask Questions. In the online world, question-based interactions are more successful. It is not about us and the answers we have, but helping others realize something for themselves. The best way to do this is by asking respectful, non-invasive, but probing questions.
Trust the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is just as present online as He is in the “real world.” He will use your interactions to touch the hearts of others.
Our generation has the unique privilege of witnessing to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the ends of the earth all at once. On the other side of your internet connection is a world in need of Christ. Let’s engage and bring God’s Kingdom on earth.