When I first heard about Internet Evangelism Day which is this Sunday, April 25, my critical sensors came alive and I may have even sneered a little, “Here we go again, Christians trying to make a holiday of something we should be doing everyday.”
See, I’m in Joe Aldrich’s camp, who wrote the book on lifestyle evangelism… literally. He says, “Christ’s model helps us see that effective evangelism involves the visualization and verbalization of truth. Christ’s personal communication strategy was incarnational: ‘The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us’ (John 1:14)” (from Lifestyle Evangelism by Joe Aldrich, pg 31). I would hope that we Christians wouldn’t need a day to force or cajole us into evangelism, hoping that we are already a witness in our communities (Internet and physical) to the redemption and reconciliation present in our lives through Christ. Though, in reality being a beacon of hope on our online social networks may not be the case for most people…
In lieu of this—I think it’s important to reframe my initial critical response, looking at Internet Evangelism Day as a kick-off event to a new online mantra rather than a one day event. To be more specific, if you aren’t already “incarnating” Christ’s love on your social networks—a day like this might be the catalyst to rebrand yourself online. Think of it as a chance to come out of the closet and let everybody know your stance on God, Jesus and the how the gospel has affected you by sharing a personal story or even—gasp—your testimony.
In 2008, during my first month on staff at LifeChurch.tv, the Church Online team partnered with Carlos Whittaker, CFCC’s very own Cynthia Ware, the ubiquitous John Saddington, and a host of others to promote a week of sharing your life’s story on your social networks. This Lifeshare event was a catalyst for many across the globe to change their online persona giving permission to reflect their faith and hope in Christ via their online networks. The push was not to upload a Roman’s Road tract to your blog and pray for a conversion, rather it was encouragement to be a witness to what God has done and is doing in your life through a conversation with those in your various networks.
This Sunday, Internet Evangelism Day, can be that for you, a catalyst to change how you present yourself online, a permission slip to share your story. Churches, of all places, should be firmly behind Internet Evangelism Day because sharing our stories is perhaps one of the best ways to do church marketing.
If the thought of this kind of transparency freaks you out… that’s okay. It should. It’s easy to compartmentalize our life, leaving God stuff for Sunday, and disengaging from any type of God-speak throughout the week. The problem is God calls us to be a witness everyday and everywhere. If you find your online presence to be you-centric rather than Christ-centric, this may be a chance to redeem that space.
Don’t know where or how to get started? Well don’t worry, the folks over at Internet Evangelism Day have put together a very robust site giving you a lot of resources and strategies to begin your integration. They have also loaded the site with training videos and how-to pages to make your web site, blog, Facebook page, Second Life avatar and Twitter feed be all that it can be to spread the gospel of Christ throughout your networks and online spaces. And going back to Joe Aldrich’s quote, what better place to “visualize and verbalize the truth” of the gospel than on your social networks and web sites? Be creative, be transparent, be who God has made you to be.
So beginning Sunday, I challenge you to be transparent throughout all your mediums—digital and physical—share your story, your testimony, on how God has impacted your everyday experience, online and offline, and see what kind of conversations God will evoke in the lives of your friends. Let’s wade through the grey areas of life, looking for crayons to scribble the beauty of God’s love.