Reaching The Online Generation

An Initiative of CityTeam Ministries

Focusing Strategies to Catalyze Online Gospel Planting Movements

Posted on | April 2, 2009 |

Since I don’t have any example of  Gospel Planting Movements in a decentralized online environment to study, I spend a fair amount of time studying the next best thing: examples of Gospel Planting Movements in decentralized offline environments.  I don’t know how much of what I learn about offline movements will translate into an effective online strategy, but the study doesn’t seem to hurt and I’m learning to ask questions that will help me (and hopefully a team) design and evaluate strategies to catalyze Gospel Planting Movements online.

I found three ways church planters, missionaries, and mission organizations use to focus their strategies:  National Focus, City Focus, and People Group Focus.  I don’t know how these affect online ministry, but I wanted to throw them out there for group evaluation and process.  (That means it’s ok to comment and ask questions.  I don’t bite, I promise.)

Nation Focus

A Nation Focus for Gospel Planting Strategies uses geo-polical boundaries to define its scope.  Within those boundaries, however, the range of activity is extremely broad.  A Nation Focus looks for answers to the strategy question, “What will it take to reach the lost and catalyze a Gospel Planting Movement within these geo-polical boundaries?”  So, for example, a church planter or mission organization which says, “We target all our efforts on planting churches in India.” has probably adopted a Nation Focus for all their strategies.

A Nation Focus is very difficult because it must develop the strategies to mobilize people, methodologies, and resources necessary to reach every people group and population segment evident within the specified geo-political boundaries.  

City Focus

A City Focus limits its scope to catalyzing Gospel Planting Movements among all the population segments withing a particular city.   The strategy question for this focus is, “What will it take to catalyze Gospel Movements among all the peoples and population segments within this city?”  An organization or individual using this focus might say something like, “We focus on reaching the lost and planting churches in Dallas, TX.”

A City Focus is less difficult than a Nation Focus because it has a smaller scope.  But it is still difficult because it must develop the strategies to mobilize people, methodologies, and resources necessary to reach every people group and population segment evident within the specified city.

People Group Focus

A People Group Focus limits its strategies to a specific people or ethnic group.  Unlike a Nation or City focus, the strategies developed by a People Group Focus are not limited by geo-political boundaries.  Instead, they follow a People Group wherever they go.  The strategy question for this focus is, “What will it take to reach this people group (ethnic group) with the Gospel.

Wikipedia posted the following definition of an people or ethnic group:

An ethnic group is a group of human beings whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage that is real or presumed.[1][2] Ethnic identity is further marked by the recognition from others of a group’s distinctiveness[3] and the recognition of common culturallinguisticreligiousbehavioral or biological traits,[1][4] real or presumed, as indicators of contrast to other groups.[5]

(Not sure what is meant by ‘presumed.’ If you know, let me know.  If you have a better definition, let me know.)

A People Group Focus is less difficult than a Nation Focus or a City Focus because of the limited scope.  But, on the other hand, you will have to be willing to work with members of that people group wherever they live throughout the world.

Developing Online Strategies and Focus

Even though I’ve used terms like ‘difficult and less difficult’ in this very surface-level description of different strategy foci, I don’t mean to imply that one is better than the other.  I also don’t mean to imply that complexity is any indication of a good or bad focus.  I’m not evaluating the validity the foci for offline church planting, I’m looking at them and studying how they might help us develop strategies for catalyzing Gospel Planting Movements online.

Since geo-political boundaries do not truly apply online, we cannot easily adopt a strict Nation or City focused strategy.  Most people who relate online cannot be categorized as a true people group either.  So, adopting one of these foci is difficult.  

Yet there are aspects that work well.   A Nation Focus looks at all the population segments.  What we are doing with Twitter, Plurk and other social media does not limit us to a particular people group and is more along a Nation Focus for Gospel Planting, sans geo-polical boundaries.

I’m still working through all this and would love your input.  This post isn’t designed to provide answers to set a particular focus for Online Gospel Planting Strategies.  Instead, I wanted to share some of the things I’m wrestling with as I as the question, “What will it take to reach the lost and catalyze Gospel Planting Movements among the Online Generation?”

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2 Responses to “Focusing Strategies to Catalyze Online Gospel Planting Movements”

  1. John King
    April 2nd, 2009 @ 2:44 pm


    There was a Visa Card commercial where the father and son visited one of the Scandanavian countries where they “presumed” their ancestors originated. When they made a stop at the records office they found out they were actually from another country. For the father’s whole life he had presumed one national cultural heritage, but it was not reality.

    What we presume to be true about ourselves shapes our sense of reality. There have been cases of white-supremacist group members who found out their great-great grandmother was actually a slave. That will rock your worldview! Ethnic identity can be a little slippery, but usually comes down to self and group identification.


  2. Paul
    April 9th, 2009 @ 4:31 pm

    Right on with the Visa Card commercial! Great reference!

    I will see you at the MRN training in April. I’m looking forward to it!


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    Who is God?' was one of the top three sentences googled in 2007, according to Google Zeitgeist. According to Alexa, the top two religious websites are Muslim, with BibleGateway coming in at a close third. The Online Generation is spiritual. They are seeking. And the church is the last place they would go to find spiritual fulfillment. This site is dedicated to those walking with The Online Generation and living lives of obedience to all the commands of Jesus Christ.
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