Friday, May 20, 2011

Outreach and the Internet.

    Churches seeking to have an online presence can do so in many ways. The most obvious is to put up a website or blog. There are a couple of things to consider, however.

    First, having an online presence for your church means a lot more than a registering a domain name and hosting a site. Church members must bring Christ with them into social networks, message boards, blogs, comments, instant messenger programs, news sites, video sites and the like.

    Second, the target audience of a church web-presence should be unbelievers, not prospective church members. Reaching prospective church members can grow your organization and your budget, but reaching the lost grows the Kingdom.

    Unbelievers don't care about your church building location, service schedule, calendar of events, staff members, doctrinal statements or various ministries. They are neither making plans to attend your church nor to listen to your online sermons.

    Online outreach strategy should create and take advantage of opportunities for conversation between believers and unbelievers. Churches and believers need to be bringing the the message of the gospel into the daily internet chit-chat.

    I will blog on internet outreach and online outreach in the future. A good starting place to learn is Paul Watson’s blog Reaching the Online Generation. Here is a good article: Eight Questions for Starting an Online Ministry.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

An Observation of Good Soil

This post is loosely related to my previous post A Guide to Getting Beyond Typical Church Outreach:

Kenneth Keathley, was a professor of mine at NOBTS. He has posted a very interesting article answering the question of how many Chinese Christians there are in China. He wrote:

[In] a recent First Things article (First Things, May 2011, pp. 14-16), three Baylor sociologists claim they have arrived at a reasonably accurate count, and they place the number at 70 million [Christians].

When the Communists came to power in 1949, there were about one million Chinese professing Christians at that time…  The Communist government outlawed religion, so the fledgling Christian church was expected to disappear.  However, by the last quarter of the 20th century it was clear that, rather than dissolving, Christianity was growing in China--and growing rapidly…

What can we conclude about these findings?  On the upside, there is the simple fact that the church in China has grown from one million to 70 million.  A 70-fold increase in 60 years is remarkable by anyone's reckoning.  It also means that in China there are more professing Christians than there are members of the Communist Party.

You can read the full article here:

This is a 6,900% increase. That fits quite nicely in the curve or a 30, 60 and 100 fold return that Jesus cited in the parable of the sower. Good soil.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Reading Roundup

What are the least churched cities in America? How does giving to missions affect local church budgets? How can one have integrity online? What is an inexpensive way to start a new church? Do churches have a life-cycle? Is each one reach one really the best evangelism strategy?

I want to add an older one to this list, because I think it gets to the heart of oikos evangelism and disciple making. Group dynamics and starting the right way are essential in both discipleship and multiplication. This is one of the best articles with respect to the group process.

Monday, May 9, 2011

The Bulletin and the Sunday Morning Pulpit.

Thoughts on Upgrading Church Communication

There was a time when the church was one of the primary social networks of a town. Announcements made from the pulpit were sure to be repeated and disseminated throughout the city. This is no longer the case, yet many churches still rely on the bulletin and announcements from the pulpit as their primary means of communication about upcoming events and as a principle method of recruiting.

Times have changed and churches have adapted to some degree. When I served as Minister to Single Adults, our singles began to work the cutting edge, using email groups (Yahoo Groups) to inform each other about bible studies, coffee socials, church events and the like. This was big, but that was 10 years ago. Now, social networks and text messaging are have joined email in the world of real-time communication.

Smartphones are permeating society and nearly all social classes, they function as one of the primary gateways to social networks and are the fastest growing means information exchange today. Ministries can send instant messages to massive numbers of contacts via smartphones and social networks, like twitter and facebook. It is now possible to create instant conference calls even over cellphones, send location maps for events, and share photos. In fact, nowadays entire books can be sent from one computer to another and one phone to another.

Churches and ministries might do well to learn how to implement group messaging applications for quick and effective communication. They also should consider how smartphones and social networks can be a tool in evangelism and discipleship.


That being said, here are some interesting applications I came across, but have not tried to use yet. 



Google Voice

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Excluding People from the Good News!

Ninety Percent of church evangelism methods, discipleship materials, and ministry strategy targets the highly literate. In fact, the overwhelming majority of church ministry is done in such a way that it is difficult or impossible for an oral preference learner to follow.

Look at these recent findings:

    • The National Institute for Literacy estimates that 47% of adults (more than 200,000 individuals) in the City of Detroit are functionally illiterate, referring to the inability of an individual to use reading, speaking, writing, and computational skills in everyday life situations.
    • Approximately half of these individuals have a high school diploma or GED, so this issue cannot be solely addressed by a focus on adult high-school completion.
    • A number of municipalities demonstrate illiteracy rates rivaling Detroit: Southfield at 24%, Warren at 17%, Inkster at 34%, Pontiac at 34%.

View a copy of the report in PDF format

Many churches have not addressed the need to evangelize and disciple using oral methods because they have not felt the need. There are always enough literate prospects in the area to grow a church. The result is, that a great number of people are selectively excluded from the gospel message.

To use a fishing metaphor, no one is fishing for Brim because plenty of Bass are biting their bait. The problem with this is that the church is not to be full of fishers of men in the sporting sense. The church is called to fish with nets. The call is to rescue the perishing. All of the “fish” in the water are dying and will die unless pulled out of the sea of death and given the water of life.

So many churches are not genuinely concerned with winning the lost. What they deeply desire is to reach enough people to fill up their sanctuaries and meet their annual budgets. The goal of many churches is not to preach to gospel to every creature. That may be the stated goal, but the real goal is to present the gospel to just enough to win a few each year and keep the church comfortably full. At least, that is what national evangelism and discipleship results seem to indicate.

Has your church considered orality in its ministry?

Here are some resources for learning how to evangelize and disciple others using oral methods:

Story4All – Since most of today’s unreached have to, or prefer to, receive information via non-literate means, we believe it is essential that we communicate with them in a style and language that they understand. To this end we have launched the story4all podcast with a weekly show that will bring you news, interviews, discussion, reviews and links to resources that will help you discover the power of storying.

The International Orality Network – ION exists to influence the Body of Christ to make disciples of all oral learners and to radically influence the way oral preference learners are evangelized and discipled in every people group.

Simply the Story – Most of the Christian discipleship, and even evangelism strategies use literate methods of communication. Importantly, the concepts we use for Simply The Story employ methods that are readily understood by oral as well as literate learners, so this very big gap is filled.

My Bible Storying Journal – This is an on-line journal of some of my experiences teaching the Bible in oral form.

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