Do Students Really Come to Faith in Christ Online?

How do we know that students are really receiving Christ online? Well, let’s look at what they do.   Let’s look at their actions. Consider everystudent.com… People will click the link that says, “I just asked Jesus into my life.” Yes, that’s easy. Yet, this link is offered only at the end of some of the articles–the long ones–about 4,000 words.

And, Google analytics shows that people spend an average of 5 minutes on these particular articles. That’s a significant amount of time, enough to read the full article.  (actions )

Some will also send an email like this: “I found my faith on this website! Last year around August, and i hadn’t thanked you yet. Thank you so much, i love God with all my heart and this site planted the seed in my heart that grew and flowered!” (more actions)

— This year we’re offering new believers an online followup series, “The Spiritual Starter Kit.” About 8,000 have entered their name and email address to receive it.  (more actions)

— Through a survey, about half said they had connected with a church or a Christian group on campus. (more actions)

— When we offered new believers a place to connect with other believers on a Facebook page, many did. And posted comments like, “awesome group and everystudent an awesome site..im new to christianity but loving it…. (more actions)

Ok, so these seem like real people becoming real Christians. How would this work in YOUR day-to-day ministry?

The key in online evangelism is to offer unbelievers something that serves them well.  In most cases, they took the initiative to search for an answer on Google. Or a Christian friend encouraged them to go to the Website. So, they’re pretty highly motivated. Once they get to the site, it needs to serve them well. It needs to deliver on those questions that are important to them… such as,  “Does God exist?” “How can I find purpose?” “Does God answer prayers?” etc. The messages need to be solid, engaging, and persuasive.

Beyond the messages, there is another reason this penetrates many hearts and minds. A Website is a student’s comfort zone. They are comfortable there. They’re able to hear and consider God in a significant way.  In this unique environment, they can consider who God is and what it might be like to know him. If the site you sent them to serves them well, you have a powerful evangelistic tool.

How can you begin to use online evangelism in your ministry?

Do these two things, and you’ll be in the top 2% who are using online well!

1. Help your Christian students become aware of everystudent.com (or some other evangelistic site, if you prefer). Show it to them in a meeting. Click through it with them. Show them some of the questions it addresses. If it’s everystudent.com, you can show them this PowerPoint presentation

2. Now that your students are aware of a useful evangelistic site, now give your students some easy action steps:

1st week – ask them to encourage five people to see the site.

2nd week – ask them to followup with one person and ask, “Did you check out the site? What did you think? Did it make sense to you? Have you ever considered having a relationship with God?”

3rd week – ask them to email one article or video of their choosing, to a friend.

4th week – ask them to post an article or video to their Facebook page, and “like” others’ postings.

5th week – ask them to write something about their relationship with God on Facebook. (or they can create their own page on everystudent.com, here: http://www.everystudent.com/valueGod) Have them share their message with one friend.

6th week – ask them to invest $10 and run a Facebook ad to that site, on their campus (see www.EveryStudentPromotion.com)

The list can go on and on. This is how it becomes local. This is how Christian students learn to reach their friends in their world, online.

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Questions for you:

— What do you think would happen if you encouraged Christian students to use an evangelistic Website? (positive or negative)

— Why do you think we often put an evangelistic Website in the “event” category, rather than part of normal, daily ministry?

— What part of online evangelism would you like to understand better?

  • http://inkindle.wordpress.com/ Judy Douglass

    My husband likes to ask, “Would you like to walk into the student union and see a light over the head of everyone who has spiritual interest/openness?” Sure you would–a great filtering system. That’s what the internet does for us–it pre-filters. The only ones we end up spending time with are those whose hearts and minds are already open, or beginning to open. They come looking for us–we don’t have to go looking for them. So it is no surprise that many make real decisions for Christ.

    • http://www.everymarilynadamson.com/ Marilyn Adamson

      Hi Judy. You’ve made a key point: “They come looking.” I think that’s what propels my sense of urgency. Students ARE looking for God, for answers, for ways to make their life work. They are right now searching. Are we making it easy for them to find Jesus? What would they have to do in their search before they find him? How can we make that easier for them?

  • http://www.keynoteconnection.org Renae Nanney

    I’ve been pondering more about using Facebook to engage with some of my college/high school friends. As a 40 something I realize that my friends and I don’t view the internet and social media the same as the current college student. what successful “strategies” or ideas have you seen to work to engage my generation online?

    • http://www.everystudent.com Marilyn Adamson

      Hi Renae. I think the easiest, most effective way to use Facebook is to every week, post an article or video from everystudent.com (or another site) to your Facebook page. If you’re not sure how to do that, I explain here how to do that: http://everystudent.wordpress.com/2009/04/19/3-posting-to-facebook/

  • http://www.hearditonthestreet.com Rich Street

    Thanks Marilyn for giving us one map to navigate the “Roman road” of the 21st century!! Anyone have other maps out there that are successful?? Love to know about them as I think this answers many leaders questions of, “Ok, I know the internet is real, but where do I start??? I don’t know what’s out there.”

  • Anne-Marie

    For those of us who still use e-mail:) we can write our testimonies and post them on every student, or truth media sites, or other sites built for the purpose of sharing the Gospel, and then append that to our signature I do this all the time, and people write back sometimes to say: Awesome story! Where can I find others? Then, we direct them to everystudent, or iamsecond,or a truth media site, or another site we like :) We can also post our story on Facebook, with a link to a site… and I try to share an article a week on facebook, or a video, or something, by just clicking Share on Facebook, with a comment…

    • http://www.everystudent.com Marilyn Adamson

      Here’s a place where you can post your testimony, or any comment about God, for unbelievers: http://www.everystudent.com/valueGod. The page will have its own URL (that you name). You can post the page on Facebook, use it in your signature, whatever! Because it appears as part of the site, it will need to be approved (just to guard against spam or porn). Then it’s yours to use!

  • http://www.scottandjessi.com Scott D

    Good point Marilyn on posting weekly, I wish I remembered that more often. Being Campus Staff I see that we often target the people we can see & that will talk with us. Our vision is to see EVERY student know someone….& to expect that we’ll be able to talk with them, they’ll come to a dorm study or large group isn’t realistic for all. I believe that more students are becoming more socially immature to carry a conversation & perhaps have the attention span of a 4 yr old! What about those sub-cultures who will barricade themselves in their room, socially awkward ones, or role-playing gamers who might never be spoken too? I totally see growing value in internet strategies. More people ARE reachable because of the internet who’d never talk with me.

    • http://www.everystudent.com Marilyn Adamson

      Exactly, Scott. But you know, it isn’t just the quiet, socially awkward. It’s largely anyone who is really seeking for God. A Buddhist, a Muslim, an atheist, someone who’s just found out their parents are divorcing or their girlfriend dumped them. It’s much easier for them to get their questions answered on a site, than to ask a person face-to-face.

      I think even if the conversation starts in person, they want a place to go to check it out on their own later. They like the control of going to a site, processing their thoughts there. No confrontation. No need to think on their feet. No need to share their most intimate thoughts. In fact, students are likely to get more real, more transparent online. This is where they’re comfortable. And open. And where they want immediate answers.

      We’re never going to be available to every student at the right time. So I think we need to help them know where they can get answers. They will search, and we can’t always be there. For the thousands on campus who will search…let’s help know know where to search – what to check out.

  • http://www.hearditonthestreet.com Rich Street

    If anyone still has doubts that people do indeed make sincere decisions for Christ online check out the everystudent fan page and listen to what people have said….http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/EveryStudent

  • http://exploringcollegeministry.com/ Benson Hines

    As I commented on Chelsea’s post yesterday, I really appreciate the starting-place of these posts on magnifying Christ and practicing ministry online. They don’t begin with any assumption that online-ness is abnormal or needs to be apologized for. Certainly, there are peculiarities that sometimes produce problems – but that’s true about any form at all. Thanks for modeling not only good nuts-and-bolts but also a standpoint that will jive best with the Millennials we’re serving now.

  • http://www.onleadingwell.com/ Ken Cochrum

    Great post, Marilyn. Thanks for laying out some tangible results that reflect changes in heart attitudes. I find myself chuckling when I think about people who still don’t believe online evangelistic strategies work. Hang in there, eventually most people came to accept that the earth is indeed round…. :-)

    kc

  • http://twitter.com/ChelseaMorrell Chelsea Morrell

    Ok, so I’m usually anti-straight up advertising. But as I’m passing time between appointments on campus and playing words with friends on my iPod touch (think iPhone minus the phone), is who ever that’s in charge of everystudent.com on here? Some church did an Easter ad on words w friends that was actually pretty good. Has anyone thought of putting everystudent.com ads on iPhone or android applications? It could also probably do some kind of location based gps whatever for local ministries

  • Jeff West

    For FB links to good “brief” (preferably 3 minutes or less) videos can draw people in. I say this from my own viewing practices and from comments made when I have posted a link to a video. I my friends post links to videos I am personally much more likely to watch it than to read a document that would require approximately the same amount of time.

    • http://www.everystudent.com Marilyn Adamson

      Great, Jeff. Totally with you. What videos for unbelievers could you recommend?

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