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Cybermissions

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  1. Cybermissions The Intentional Front-Line Use of Computers And The Internet To Facilitate the Great Commission.

  2. The Use of “Means” • Frontier mission is always an adventure and a calling, in the words of William Carey, to “use means” for the completion of the Great Commission. • One of these means is the use of the Internet. • The Internet has many unique features that make it suited for missions.

  3. The Internet Advantage The Internet reaches: • Many people – about 1 billion! • In many nations – simultaneously • And can build community • Reach a mass audience • Or communicate just one-to-one securely • Using text, graphics, ebooks, audio, video, email, conferencing, VOIP, forums, web pages, blogs…. • In a wide variety of languages • And can be regionally or culturally targeted.

  4. More Advantages… • No airfares needed • No visas required • Less health problems • Greater personal safety • Enters “closed” countries • Reaches community leaders • Works even when you are asleep • Very cost effective • Ideal for retired missionaries

  5. The BIGGEST Advantage • People arrive at websites because of purposeful behaviour - they clicked on a link or used a search engine. • Thus web visitors are there with a purpose and already have some interest. • Thus you are not dealing with cold, apathetic people. • You are ministering straight to the people you want to be ministering to. • To be able to minister to people who are already interested in what you have to say is the BIGGEST advantage of Cybermissions.

  6. Seekers Use The Internet • People use the Internet to do private searching for information. • Whether it be conspiracy theories or health information people go online to find what they are afraid to ask out aloud publicly. • People considering adopting the Christian faith also use the Internet to find out information and to talk with Christians. • “Religion seekers” are a major Internet phenomenon with 40% of Internet users regularly searching for religious information online. • That is 400 million people seeking religious information. These are the people you want to contact!

  7. The Religion Seekers Religion seekers: • Are not just “hits” or “visitors’ or “statistics” • Have names like Bob and Jane and Mohammed and Beng! • Live in a real country and do real work. • Are just as real as the people in the street! • Come to a website seeking answers about their deepest questions. • Are often very curious about Christianity.

  8. Are We Seeker-Sensitive? • Surprisingly most mission websites are not targeted towards “religion seekers” • And do NOT answer key questions about Christianity asked by non-Christians. • Often they are just tools for the corporate image! • Some people think: “the harvest field is out there in Zimbabwe and this website is just where we put the pictures, and raise the funds for the real work.” • However the Harvest Field is also ONLINE!

  9. Getting The Point! • Christian mission agencies need to get the point - of 400 million people with spiritual questions who are just a mouse click away from salvation. • Websites need to be Harvest Fields! Places of sowing and reaping for the gospel! • The website is one of your most strategic tools for evangelism! • Religion surfers can hear the gospel online just as they can hear it from a book, a tract or a pulpit and give their lives to Christ.

  10. The Right Reason • The right reason for a missions website is to get spiritual results for Jesus. • You can explain the gospel, answer questions, exhort, reprove, instruct and disciple young people, train and counsel your workers and so much more! • Ask: “What would Jesus do with this website to build His Church and expand His Kingdom?”

  11. The Possibilities • Web evangelism • Bible teaching • Online seminaries • Discipleship in discussion forums. • Online counselling and mentoring. • City-wide Christian web portals. • Target a specific people group. • Target a particular interest group • Offer practical help – such as how to purify water. • Coordinate and connect Christians and non-Christians, teachers and students, problems and solutions…

  12. More Possibilities • Safely witness to Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists. • Language and culture exposure. • Build friendships before going to the field. • Use websites to follow-up after crusades. • Tightly coordinate the website with your other outreach efforts - build relationships offline and put the information online. • Network widely scattered missions specialists. • Raise up informed intercessors by using websites and email lists.

  13. EXAMPLE: Cybermissions And The Tsunami • Online databases coordinated massive relief efforts. • Millions of dollars were donated via websites. • Theological questions about justice, tragedy and suffering were answered in blogs, web pages and emails. • Short-term mission teams were pulled together using websites, emails and online recruitment tools. • People and locations were prayed for on Internet prayer boards. • The Internet made the Christian response to the tsunami far more timely and possible! • Those who knew how to use the Internet best, responded best, when the crisis came.

  14. Strategy Section How to be effectiveGood missiologyAppropriate technology

  15. The Word In Cyberspace • It is the gospel that is the power of God unto salvation – and not technology, methodology or personality! • The gospel can be encountered on a web page or in a chat room and a person can give their life to Jesus. • This can happen even when you are asleep! • The important thing is to connect religion seekers with the word of the gospel in a way that they can clearly understand.

  16. Missiology Still Applies Online • You still need to think missiologically when doing online ministry. • You still need to learn the language and the culture and understand the worldview of the people. • The idea is to assist the implementation of a good missionary strategy by using powerful technology.

  17. Thinking Strategically • Who are you aiming to reach? • What are they interested in? • What do they feel they need? • What sort of people do they want to meet online? • What are their questions about God? • What language do they use? • What is their communication style? • How can all these factors above be reflected in a well-designed and easy to use website?

  18. More Questions.. • What security issues are there? • What is their bandwidth? • What is their level of technological understanding? • How patient are they with technology? • Are they group learners or individual learners? • Are they oral learners requiring lots of audio and video online? • How much time can you put in?

  19. Meet A Pressing Need • Start with the need then build the website. • It is OK to have lots of different websites. • E.G. Do your grass-roots national pastors need free theological training? Can they get to an icafe once a week and download what they need? • Build a website to meet their basic training needs then follow up with occasional visits by trainers.

  20. Use A Bridge Strategy • Build a website around a secular interest. • Then connect to testimonies and gospel presentations. • E.G. To reach Iraqis - “History of Babylon” • To reach Indians –“What Ghandi Learned From Jesus”

  21. Tips On Strategy • Language group / interest group is far more important than nationality. • 2/3 of the Internet is non-English speaking. • Learning style is “almost everything” ! • Aim for the 2% who are most responsive to the Holy Spirit. • No one first visits a website because of the graphics. • Word of mouth and viral marketing drive the Internet - so connect with those who can connect with others. • The more specific the website is, the more visitors it often attracts. (For low to medium budget websites) • Command a niche market for maximum impact.

  22. Specialized Websites Get The Most Hits • Specialized websites do much better in the search engines and so get many more hits. • For instance a general website on “God” will be lost on page 43 of Google and get almost no hits. • But a specific web page say on “A Christian Response To Human Cloning” will get many hits because it is a specialized website on a hot topic and will have few competitors. • Generic websites generally fail unless they have very big advertising budgets. • Specialized websites – rare books, vintage cars, specific medical problems are doing very well. • Websites targeted at Third World cities or less known UPGs may be among the only ones on that topic and will rate highly in the search engines.

  23. Designing With The Average End User In Mind

  24. Basic Web Design • The Internet is driven by seekers searching for information or for relationship (or both). • They start either at a link or at a search engine. • So you need to have:a) information that people are looking for b) relationships they can connect to c) many links pointing to your website d) be well-ranked in the search enginese) be clear, easy-to-use and to navigate

  25. Be Clear! • Many people are easily confused by computers and the Internet. • You may need to train people in how to use your website. • Provide plenty of cues and lots of help. • Make it fast-loading, and not cluttered or unreadable. • Use high-contrast – e.g black text on white background. • Make links underlined, and avoid “junk” like rotating crosses that clutter the visual landscape.

  26. Think Interaction Not Just Information • Interaction builds loyalty. • Interaction grows the relationship so you can ask the tough questions. • Interaction must be carefully nurtured. • Make numerous opportunities for people to respond, to contact you, to ask questions, to meet others, and to post their opinions. • Use web forms, bulletin boards, email links • When replying be POP: Prompt, On-Topic, and Personal • Do not commercialize the interaction unless given permission to do so.

  27. Make It Easy To Spread The Word • Make web pages and articles easy to print out and take home. • Let them copy and distribute your materials for free. • Make them easy to download in an icafe - have online resources able to fit on a single floppy disk. • Use ebooks – they are compressed, download very quickly and can be emailed to others. • Provide “tell a friend” forms where they can tell others about you. • Have a web address that is easy to write down or remember. • Use “bring-em-back” technology such as Inspired Text browser plug-ins that they can download. • Give them an attractive screensaver with your website address on it.

  28. Common Objections

  29. But They Aren’t Online! • But their community leaders are, and often at least one extended family member is! • If you can reach one key person you can reach a whole community. • This is known as the “tunnel and blast” strategy. Use the Internet to “tunnel in” and find one “man of peace”, then build a relationship, equip this person to win the community - and “blast” the gospel. • Internet cafes also provide access for many people in developing nations. • You are not just contacting a person, you are contacting that person’s network. • Use the Internet to connect with people who can connect you to still more people.

  30. But It Won’t Work Everywhere! • The fact that you can't do something everywhere is no reason to stop trying it somewhere. • Cybermissions works in the most surprising places e.g., Bhutan • Cybermissions can work via both online strategies and through establishing Internet cafes and student centers. • There is an enormous hunger for technology and free information in developing nations.

  31. Doing Cybermissions

  32. Set Up A Cybermissions Department An ideal cybermissions department has four kinds of people: • Technical staff, web designers, graphic artists • Content editors, writers, video producers • Field missionaries with language and cultural experience. • Evangelists, bible teachers and intercessors

  33. Missions Should Be The Focus • Focus the team around the missiological objectives. • Keep the technology appropriate to the average end user you are trying to reach - who may have limited bandwidth. • Coordinate the goals of the Cybermissions team with the other objectives of the missions agency to create synergies. • Have a Field Director - Cyberspace

  34. Select A Major People Group • Focus your efforts for maximum effectiveness. • China, Japan and the Middle East have hundreds of millions of people that can be reached by Cybermissions and in each`case have just one main language you need to use. • China has 90 million Internet users and is highly responsive to the gospel. • India has many English speakers and is increasingly tech savvy.

  35. Places Where Cybermissions Might Be The Main Strategy • If the nation is difficult to reach by conventional missionary strategies. • But they have enough Internet connectivity to see people saved and to start a church-planting movement. • There are 43 nations where cybermissions could be used as the main outreach strategy:Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Bhutan, Brunei, Burma, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Georgia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Malaysia, Mali, Mongolia, Nepal, Niger, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan,Vietnam,Yemen

  36. Dollars And Sense • You can set up low-cost icafes in unreached people groups using donated recycled computers. • Open source software can save you big bucks. • Major foundations are starting to look at funding Cybermissions. • Cybermissions is ideal for volunteers can work home. • It is often possible to get free web hosting. • On average Cybermissions costs less than $100 per new convert.

  37. Final Comments • Cybermissionaries can work alongside conventional missionaries to generate synergies that spread the gospel. • The Internet is where many seekers doing their seeking and Christian missions needs to prioritize the 400 million relatively easy to reach religion surfers online.