A Relevant Gospel for a Web 2.0 World

I’ve been working on some new features for the main site, and haven’t really had much time to sit down and collect my thoughts recently.  If you’ve followed me for long, you know how fervently I strive to be a “witness,” whatever that may entail.  And as a self-professed geek, I feel that these internets can and should be used as a tool for evangelization.  The question is: “How?”

I teach the Teens’ Sunday School class at my church, and have a mission for it that I believe is somewhat unique to a class of that age-range: to teach them how to read and understand the Bible for themselves.  Somewhere along in my life, I got a pretty decent understanding of the Bible, how to study it, etc. . . and that was before my brief and disappointing stay at a Bible college.  So, we go through a book of the Bible, taking our time, reading, and learning how to take the story, and apply it to our lives, how to read it in context so we don’t get wacky with things, how to study a topic throughout the Bible as a applicable one arises through our reading.  Most of the kids didn’t even realize there was a concordance in the back of their Bible before it started, and they’ve really learned how to dig in and find answers to tough questions in the Bible.

We recently began studying the book of Acts, and while we’ve only talked about 2 verses in it in depth, so far, it’s really started changing the way I view my witnessing activities.  In Acts 1:8, we see a mandate that represents an almost insurmountable slew of cultural barriers.  Not only should the disciples witness to their own kind, but to the Samaritans (gasp!) and eventually even the Gentiles!  We’re studying the book in this light: as a manual for reaching across barriers and winning the lost.

In my class, I used  the example of me and a redneck.  I am, at my heart, a city boy.  I don’t hunt.  I don’t fish.  I don’t really even like to be outside, except for perfect, cool days, with no bugs.  I like the hustle and bustle of a city.  I don’t particularly care for country-style fried foods (they do fry everything…ever had a fried twinkie?  I have).  I don’t like football.  Basically, it’s nearly impossible for me to connect with the traditional southerners of small-town Arkansas.  However, I have the mandate to do just that, to spread the Gospel.  And to be effective, I feel, I must do it in a way that is relevant to the person receiving it.  I think, here, is where we lose a lot of effectiveness has Christians today.

Paul famously (infamously?) said when he was in Rome, he did as the Romans.  That he becomes all things to all people, in order the spread the Gospel.  I think I can surmise, that this means if I’m going to witness to rednecks (and I don’t use that term derogatorily) then I have to “become one” . . . so to speak.  I have to be willing to show them I care about them, and that usually means showing that I care about the things they care about.  That I “get” them.  I mean . . . seriously . . . what country fellow, who hunts and fishes, and loves the outdoors and all the stuff in it, is going to take a look at a pale, pasty, computer nerd, who is never parted with his iPhone and think, “This guy really gets where I’m coming from . . . and I should listen to what he has to say.”  I’m not saying be fake . . . I’d be ridiculed pretty fast if I went around with boots talking about shooting animals in the woods.  But I can engage Mr. Redneck in areas where we can connect.  I can show I care by saying, “Hey . . . you been fishing lately?  Catch anything?”  I think the working premise here, is that I care enough about him to engage him in his culture, if I can’t engage him as part of his culture.  Maybe even go fishing with him.  Believe me, he’d only invite me once. 😉

We’ve become so accustomed to “church-centered” evangelization, that we miss out on the true secret of church growth in Acts: personal evangelism.  They were at each other’s houses, breaking bread, and believers were added to the church daily.  That means that on a daily basis, regular believing Jews would have to go out of their way to befriend Gentiles and Samaritans.  To love them.  Care for them.  Looking at churches today, we’ve evolved into our own brand of Judaism.  We don’t reach to the world, we look down on them.  We don’t go to the lost, and pull them up to where we are, we look down on them and expect them to come to us.  I believe that the relevance of evangelistic crusades for this generation just isn’t there.  Basically, we’ve gotten a little too self-righteous.

So, for today’s generation, the internet is obviously a relevant way to engage them, but I haven’t seen it used effectively (yet) to reach anyone.  I have an idea, but I’m interested in hearing your opinions.  Leave some ideas in the comments, or share a new way to engage anyone in a way that is relevant to who they are.  One way I think the internet can excel, for us, is to provide a place for us to encourage each other to go out and win the lost.  To share ideas, stories, and testimonies of how to be an effective witness.  That’s why I started, and that’s especially why I opened it up to a community of bloggers to host their own blogging site on, or share their current blog with a new audience.  Hopefully, we can all help each other become real and true witnesses.

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