In our May 2020 EBlast, I addressed “Six Questions Churches Must Ask: Part One” as it related to the Church using the Internet to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). The first three questions were:
- Do we “do church” in our building or online?
- What is our ultimate outcome for online ministry?
- Who is our target audience?
Now, we will consider the final three questions.
How do we turn viewers into followers?
I will suggest two actions we must take to turn viewers into followers. First, we must realize the amazing opportunity we have to speak truth into the lives of individuals. As the vast majority of Internet viewing is on hand-held devices, viewing is done by individuals. We can present the Gospel as a video, live broadcast, podcast, or article into the palms of individuals around the world and even do so in their languages. Therefore, we must deliver the message as if we are speaking to the specific individual instead of speaking to an auditorium full of people.
When we speak truth into the heart and mind of individuals, the Holy Spirit takes over and breaks through their facades, worldviews, and even heartaches. He ministers for He is the Spirit of Truth. When people have a genuine spiritual encounter, they will want to continue a relationship with you.
Second, we must take them from where they are to where they need to be in Christ. Receiving online viewers is great but, what can we do to ensure that they return and, better yet, join our local community of faith? One response to this question is that we must engage them in their life journey from where they are today and then help them go to where they need to be in Christ. Today, many people search online to address their heart-felt needs and to find answers to the issues of life that trouble them. We can speak truth into the individual, one-to-one, and on a global scale. We present the truth. We answer their questions. We pray with them. We offer them Biblical verses and answers. We provide them with resources. As we minister to them, they will move from being viewers to followers.
What do we do with followers?
We make disciples! We must take followers to where they need to be in Christ by offering them online content that will enable them to grow in their relationship with Him. Making disciples occurs as followers consume your church’s online content throughout the week and along with your weekly service. Here are three opportunities to consider. First, you must offer an online specific discipleship pathway that individuals can study on their own schedules. Give them ways to interact with you so they can get answers to their questions that arise in the study and also to partner with them in prayer.
Second, provide content that directs your followers to apply truth to daily life. In our current society, the vast majority of our responses to a question or a need is to “Google it!” The Church must have an online interactive presence to present the Gospel and show clearly how to live God’s truth daily live. What an amazing opportunity!
Third, inject local content into your discipleship opportunities. Offer times for prayer online and take prayer requests, play recorded testimonies from people in your church, and discuss important local issues. Make time to produce videos, podcasts, and articles. Use every venue and opportunity to share God’s Word so that people in your church family can be thinking and practicing what they have learned (Philippians 4:8-9).
Where do we go to get help?
We believe in partnerships. As we live in a global marketplace, it behooves us to connect with like-minded partners who share our passion to reach everyone, everywhere. We accomplish more in partnerships than when we attempt to go alone. I am pleased that Network211 is built for partnerships!
Network211 partners with local churches by (1) using Google Ad words to draw visitors to our interactive online communities, (2) training local church believers to respond to those who write to us, (3) offering visitors online discipleship content, and (4) directing visitors to a church in the real world located in their area.
Local churches do well in ministering to individuals during specific meeting times. Now, partnership with Network211 empowers the local church to speak truth into the lives of people during the times when meetings are not scheduled. Also, Network211’s discipleship content ministers to the church’s online visitors and establishes a relationship between them so that the visitors can move to being followers and then become disciples.
Your partnership with us in prayer and financial support empowers Network211 to do our part to fulfill the Great Commission. Also, together we are able to partner with local churches around the world by connecting them with individuals online who they might not encounter in the real world. This begins a journey from visitors to followers to disciples!
We can use the Internet as a tool of the Gospel! We can journey with individuals around the world and lead them from the virtual world into a transformational and vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ!
Dr. Mark Flattery