How to run a successful digital evangelism program

Man Explaining To His Friends From Scripture
How to implement Digital Evangelism in order to grow and advance your church's mission even when you're experiencing poor church attendance.

If your church is not utilizing digital evangelism, then you’re loosing out on one of the most effective ways to grow your church. Poor church attendance is probably the biggest threat to today’s church. As the need of the church’s presence in the worldly matters increases, we find that church attendance is headed in the opposite direction. This is a major problem especially for small churches that rely sorely on member offering and tithe to operate. As a result, many churches are not able to take care of their own expenses and later on do what they’re called to do.

What is digital evangelism?

Since the church is usually last to adopt new technologies, the word Digital Evangelism is not very common. When you Google this term you’ll find all kinds of definitions but for the purpose of this article, we’re going to define digital evangelism as the church using the internet or technology to carry out their evangelistic campaigns.

Why the church needs digital evangelism

Times are changing and it’s important to note that we’re living in a time the demand for content now is high. People want content when they want it. For example, many people go to Youtube or Google to search for whatever they want and when they want it. So if someone needs a word of encouragement, he or she will get it instantly.

This, however, is not the case with churches. People still go to church to listen to sermons that most times have nothing to do with their need. People still go to church believing that God has a message for them. But, unless the word touches on their need, they’ll go back home feeling unsatisfied.

The church needs to do more in meeting people’s content needs otherwise they feel that void with something else. In order to meet people’s content needs, the church needs to utilize technology. The mobile phone and internet have changed everything about content delivery and the church needs to catch on or be left behind.

In order for us to see the need for a digital evangelism, we must first understand the times we live in and the reasons why people attend church. The illustration below is taken from a study conducted by Gallup, where people where asked why they attend church.

Based on the table above, it’s very clear that people go to church for different reasons. I think we can safely say that about roughly 70% of churchgoers attend church for the right reasons. If that’s the case, then it is also possible that people avoid church for very similar reasons. In another research, many people said they didn’t attend church because church asks for a lot of money. From the table above we can tell that church is able to meet some people’s needs and at the same time fails to meet other people’s needs.

For the people that go to church for the right reasons, the church is one place where they get their spiritual needs met. This means that it doesn’t matter what the sermon is about, they’ll take it all in. This is fine if you ignored the reason why the church exists. evangelism is about going out into the world to make believers out on unbelievers.

There’s no doubt that traditional church works for the most believers. The question is, does it work for the unbelievers or the people that go to church just because it’s their family tradition?. The answer is no. For example,  I have a friend called Richie. Now Richie is one of the most generous people I know. This guy is down to earth and gives so much of himself that he’ll do anything for people he loves as well as strangers. Richie’s wife is a Christian and has invited him to church several times but he wouldn’t go unless its a funeral. One surprising thing about Richie is that he’s always listening to gospel music and he’ll watch some television evangelists too. I bring up this example of Richie because they are so many Richies out there who are ready to accept the gospel but don’t want to go to church to receive it.

The church also needs digital evangelism for the believers. Many believers have come to expect spiritual nourishment from church and so they really look forward to going to church every Sunday or Saturday. I don’t know about you but it’s during the week that most people need Jesus the most.

If that’s the case, what is your church doing about making sure that its members get the spiritual nourishment during the week? The answer is probably nothing and they may be some good reasons for this. You see the traditional church believes in physically meeting for services but considering that people are so busy working multiple jobs during the week, it’s next to impossible to meet.

That’s when digital evangelism comes in. in this day and age, everyone has a cell phone.  if the church does not utilize the cell phone, people will spend their time doing something else.

Another reason is that an average person receives about 120 emails a day. These emails are mostly business and advertisements. Now ask yourself how many emails you receive from your church in a month. I know I wouldn’t be wrong if I said none. This and many other reasons is the reason why I advocate for digital evangelism.

What tools do you need?

The tools you need will depend on the route you choose to take. You may choose to go the Youtube way where you just create videos for your audience or you may choose the email way. For the purpose of this article, we will take the email marketing route because I believe that email is still the most effective way to communicate with your audience. The following is a list of tools you need to run a successful digital campaign.

  • Online Survey 

Taking a survey of your members is probably the most important step and one you should not skip. In the world where interactive information is the order of the day, people have more and more choices for anything. Most people would rather stay home and watch a sermon on Youtube or a live sermon on the church website. Above all, the internet has an appealing way of providing and meeting people’s needs in an instant. The survey will give you a better understanding of the people you serve that way you’ll be able to create content that meets their needs.

  • Email List  

The main ingredient in email marketing is trust. Unlike the business world that spends millions on trust, the church is in a position to build an email list for free and fast. See how to build an email list for your church.

  • Email Hosting

Most churches use email hosting like Gmail, Hotmail, yahoo e.t.c. These hosting are ok and free but the problem is that unless you send an email to one person at a time, you’ll have hundreds of exposed email addresses in the CC section. This is not only unacceptable but dangerous. If one person is hacked then its likely that the whole church will be hacked as well. Above all you need an advanced email hosting software that will allow you to send newsletters, connect to forms and smart emails. In another article, I wrote about different types of email hosting software. In other words, you’ll need Email Automation software.

  • Content

In order to run a great digital evangelism, you will need great content which includes videos and text. At this point, if you haven’t done a survey yet, please do so because great content depends on the people’s needs. The email hosting software is able to put people into different groups depending on their needs and so you’ll be able to send content that is relevant to them.

To sum this all up, your church needs to start building an email list. Here’s an article on how to build an email list. The next thing to do is find out what your audience is interested in by using survey tools. That way you’re meeting your members content needs. Once you have the survey results, it’s time to create content. Content can be videos and or text-based. The videos don’t have to be long because people will not watch them. The final piece to this is distribution. That’s when a good email automation software comes in. To learn more about email automation see email distribution and automation.

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Nelson Musonda

Nelson Musonda

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