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Online Evangelism in a Secular Culture

To ensure that we can make good ‘bridges’, not ones that will fall down, we need to be as familiar as possible with contemporary culture. There’s nothing worse than trying to be ‘trendy’ and failing because you’re ‘out of date’. The need is to keep your finger on the pulse of what interests the target group you are trying to reach. It’s so easy to get so wrapped up in Christian activities and terminology that we lose our ability to communicate to non-Christians. Surveys show that many new Christians lose their circle of non-Christian friends, yet we know that the most successful evangelism is friendship evangelism!

Keeping up-to-date with current affairs is essential for finding relevant subjects for creating ‘bridge-building’ evangelistic material. Much political and social news has a moral dimension which presents opportunities to bring in the Christian message, and to which the Christian faith has the ultimate answers. But it mustn’t just be a ‘the Bible says’ type approach because we are dealing with a post-Biblical generation that respects no authority, least of all traditional religious authority. We need to demonstrate the wisdom of a particular teaching from the Bible before presenting the source itself. The skill of apologetics is needed like never before!

It is essential to keep in touch by maintaining non-Christian friendships, but also to immerse ourselves in the secular media — reading newspapers, magazines, watching TV and films, and increasingly, surfing the net, etc.

Here at CPO I keep an up-to-date file on a range of moral/social/ethical subjects from current affairs, plus testimonies from well-known people, quotations from secular people that may prove a Christian point (little do they know!), plus files on a range of current ‘hot’ issues like genetics, the environment, Internet, or whatever seems to be making the news regularly, so that when a need to write on something like this occurs in the future I already have some relevant source material. On a personal note, outside of work I also periodically write a ‘Christian comment’ in a local newspaper, which keeps me looking out for what people are interested in, so I can then write on a topical subject.

This requires effort and time, and sometimes what we have to watch or read may not be what we enjoy, it may be distasteful and not exactly filling our minds with ‘whatever is noble, whatever is pure’ etc. So we have to keep our critical faculties open, and be careful not to absorb secular values ourselves, whilst attempting to understand and stay familiar with them. But one thing is certain – if we don’t do this, we will end up being unable to relate to non-Christians. In fact, in the past, the majority of Christians who have been in the faith for more than a few years have probably become incapable of being effective evangelists because they have so little in common with non-Christians. This was partly due to the ‘come out from them and be ye separate’ mentality which prevailed in some evangelical denominations in past decades – where going to theaters, cinemas, pubs, clubs, etc. was ‘worldly’ and a sin in itself. They seemed to forget that Jesus was accused (falsely) of being a drunkard and a sinner because he himself mixed with sinners and went to their homes. He was loved by the sinners despite being holy himself. It was the religious that despised him. It’s a case of we need to be ‘in the world, but not of it’. That’s real ‘separation’, real holiness.

 

You may reprint this article in any publication. Please acknowledge the source: Web Evangelism Guide http://www.web-evangelism.com, quote CPO’s URL http://www.cpo-online.org also and include this copyright/reuse notice. SOON Gospel Literature 2000, admin@soon.org.uk

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About the Author: Andrew Halloway is the Editor of Good News, a monthly evangelistic newspaper used by churches and missions throughout the UK. He has nearly 30 years of experience in Christian publishing. He worked for CWR (Crusade for World Revival) as an editor and writer for four years and for CPO (Christian Publishing and Outreach) as editorial manager and then publishing manager for eight years. At New Life Publishing, where he was editorial manager for five years, he was Editor of another evangelistic newspaper, New Life, and Deputy Editor of the official monthly magazines of two national church denominations. He is married to Mandy, has two daughters and lives in Nottingham.

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