Bible colleges and web evangelism
“Training students for internet evangelism is a strategic initiative of immense value.”
– Simon Steer, Principal, London School of Theology
“With hundreds of millions of people daily trafficking the Internet, can we, as Christians, not view this as an opportunity to spread the gospel?”
– Victor Kuligin, Namibia Evangelical Theological Seminary
“Using the Internet for evangelism is no longer just ‘a good idea.’ Right this minute, Christians around the world are sharing their faith in Christ online, working to reach the millions of people exploring faith questions on the Internet. Bible colleges and seminaries can play a key role in reaching this online mission field by training their students to become ‘Internet Evangelists.’ Internet Evangelism Day and the Internet Evangelism Coalition offer resources designed to do just that.”
– Naomi A. Frizzell, Director of Communications, Lausanne Movement, Managing Editor, LausanneWorldPulse.com
Our Open Letter to Bible Colleges highlights the strategic value of including modules on web evangelism within college courses. We also see potential for student placements, research projects, and direct involvement in web evangelism by colleges themselves.
PlacementsOf course, one of the best ways to learn anything is to do it, especially in the company of those who are already doing it. A number of web evangelism ministries need volunteer help, and this could be an ideal placement for a student interested in online outreach. Options could include a short internship working at the organizational offices, or joining an email mentoring team to give counsel and advice to inquirers or new believers. A related activity is teaching IT use to disadvantaged young people.
• Opportunities for placements in a range of organizations.
An alternative option would be for a student to initiate and develop some form of online outreach as a practical project (probably with a dissertation on the lessons learned). This could be varied: developing a website or blog, learning to use chat rooms or social networking, producing video clips or applications for mobile phones. The possibilities are very wide.
Most students will have a Facebook (or other social networking) profile, and can build redemptive relationships through this medium.
Research projectsBecause the Web is such a recent medium, relatively little research has been conducted into differnet areas of web ministry. There is a big need for projects on a wide range of internet evangelism topics. Those that we are aware of (some quite old) are listed below. We do encourage the initiation of dissertations and projects on a wide range of digital evangelism issues, and are glad to give suggestions and advice. If any of your students have already published online research in relation to the Web, we will be glad to link to it.
• Research papers
Direct college ministryAs well as the strategic importance of adding web evangelism to college curricula, one academic has proposed a way that colleges could have a direct evangelistic ministry online. She writes:
“What might be a good evangelistic online outreach: online courses (with or without college credit) on subjects like Near-East Archeology, Comparative Religions, Church History or Introduction to Philosophy offered to the general public, and written specifically for non-Christians. Many are interested in these subjects and it would provide a venue where Christians and non-Christians could start a conversation.”This might be an area where students and faculty could work together, and indeed different colleges could also cooperate to produce different segments of such an ‘outsider-friendly’ resource. It could be very useful for high school students, secular college students, and anyone with an interest in these subjects. Please write to us if you are considering this, of know of any type of online outreach conducted by any college known to you.
Other optionsThere are also many other ways in which a college might itself do web ministry. One option might be the creation of a community site. If this is set up with Content Management, a range of users can contribute without any technical knowledge. Blogs could also be used, on a vast range of subjects, including local or sporting issues. Very few Christian blogs are actually accessible to non-Christians, and there is a big need for this sort of relationship-building: view our guidelines for blogging as outreach.
If you would like to discuss any of these questions with us, please write.