Are You Broadcasting Online or Having an Online Conversation?

by Paul on July 14, 2009

Our online missionaries do not hide their relationship with Christ or the fact that they seek to obey Him. They actively reach out to non-Christians, in obedience to Luke 10, and offer to pray for them. They encourage people. And, at the appropriate time, they dialog about Jesus – all with the purpose of engaging communities in Discovery Bible Studies.

We teach our online missionaries to be conspicuously spiritual without being obnoxiously religious. They use Shema statements – to apply Deuteronomy 6:4-9 – as they Tweet, Plurk, blog or Facebook. Shema statements indicate that the online missionary is a spiritual person and is open to discussing spiritual things. Persons of peace – people who are actively seeking God – can respond to these statements and create an opportunity to have a Discovery Bible Study within their community.

One Shema statement might be:

“I am thankful that my parent choose to obey Christ. It has made a big difference in my life.”

Another might be:

“I’m so glad that God gave us coffee!”

And another:

“I can’t sleep, so I’m going to spend some time talking with God. It there anything you want me to pray about?”

A few weeks into the summer, one of our online missionaries said they weren’t having much luck with their Shema statements. No one was responding. We talked a bit and came to the conclusion that she needed to work Shema statements into her conversations with people, as appropriate, rather than merely broadcasting all the time.

As I was thinking about that, I realize that I do both. When it’s appropriate, I will make a Shema statement within a conversation. I also broadcast (status updates) Shema statements. When I’m entering a new community, working Shema statements into existing conversations is easier that trying to start a conversation with a Shema statement. That’s because no one really responds to a newbie’s broadcasts until they’ve earned a place in the community. As the community accepts me, however, they become more responsive to my broadcasts. Even then, I still do both.

Many Christians online broadcast their message and hope people stop by to participate in their conversation. Although some may respond that tactic, I think we would have better success if we participated in their conversations and become part of their communities. Then, at the right time, we can engage people in spiritual conversations. Broadcasting supports conversation, but I’m not sure it should be the primary means of engaging the lost or discipling them to Christ.

What do you think?

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Nick Charalambous July 14, 2009 at 12:15 pm

That’s solid. I felt the same after #Jesus started trending a couple of days ago on Twitter simply by a bunch of Christians wanting Jesus to go to the trending topics. For me, this is close to “spamming” communication. Its just bullhorns in cyberspace. The message is that we’re more about shouting and proclaiming than explaining. Christians tend to take a lot of the “common sense” of what they believe for granted. That’s dangerous, especially when what we believe is “foolishness” to those who are perishing.

John King July 14, 2009 at 12:51 pm

Paul,

Good distinction. Even church planters telling the creation story at a cross-roads spot ask permission to share their story about how the world began after asking those gathered to share their stories of creation. That’s conversing, not just broadcasting!

John

Anglican Ecumenical Bible Study in Second Life (Wilf) July 17, 2009 at 12:28 pm

So true, and most remarkable -

“Shema statements” – such a brilliant way of describing a social tactic of testing the waters of communication for a good moment where the Holy Spirit might act.

This will travel.

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