Bringing online discipleship face to face
Indigitous is passionate about connecting people to Christ using digital strategies. The Bible says to “go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15). To bring the Gospel to everyone, you must meet them where they are, which is increasingly in the digital realm, whether surfing the Web or using mobile apps. You know this; that’s why you’re part of the Indigitous tribe.
The problem is that it’s easy to separate the digital world from the “real” world and craft a digital evangelical strategy that connects people to Jesus digitally but has no face-to-face follow-through. Even as people carry out more and more of their interactions online, there is no replacing the unique intimacy of face-to-face encounters. Video calls on Skype are wonderful, but they can’t fully replicate looking someone in the eyes, putting your hand on their shoulder, and explaining that God is crazy about them. Online chats, message boards and interest groups can be a blessing from God, but there is no substitute for face-to-face fellowship with likeminded believers.
That’s why your digital strategy should not only connect people with Jesus, but should also connect them with other people and pathways for spiritual growth. God said, “It is not good for man to be alone” (Gen 2:18). We were meant for fellowship with Him and with other believers. While there are abundant digital tools and strategies for introducing people to Jesus and providing for their spiritual growth, these tools should never totally replace in-person interaction.
For example, take the story of Erica, a 37-year-old lawyer in Hungary who became a Christian after visiting EveryStudent.hu. After praying to accept Christ as her Savior, Erica signed up for a digital Spiritual Starter Kit, which includes a series of emails to encourage spiritual growth. One of those emails talked about the importance of a Christian community. That struck a chord with Erica, who felt totally alone and didn’t know any friends or family members who were believers. Not knowing what to do, she replied to the email and asked for suggestions on where and how to find such a community.
That one small action of replying to an email started Erica on an incredible spiritual journey. A volunteer at EveryStudent responded to the email and invited Erica to her church. Taking a leap of faith, Erica agreed and loved it so much that she knew she had to get involved in her new church home. Erica is now active in the church choir and regularly meets with that volunteer to engage in fellowship.
Erica doesn’t feel alone anymore. She has a church community in which she is active, she has a personal relationship with the living God, and she regularly meets with a Christian friend who helped introduce her to all of that.
What if that volunteer had responded differently to Erica’s question? What if her response was a suggested book about Christian community? What if her response was a link to an online group or a map of random churches nearby? Would it have had the same result as a personal invitation to go to church with her on Sunday? Only God knows. The important question is this: How does your digital strategy help people connect with Christ and with other believers on a personal level?