First Baptist Church of Rahway, 177 Elm Ave., Rahway, New Jersey 07065 is a multi-cultural congregation that has a Blended English Service on Sunday Mornings, a Latino Service at 12:00, and a Service in Telugu at 3:30PM. For more information, call (732) 388-8626. Or click here to send an email. If you wish to help the Mission and Ministry of First Baptist financially click the Donate Button.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Finding an Audience on the Internet

There are a lot of miracles in the Bible that I wish I could do. I wish I could make food appear as needed like Jesus did with the miracle of the loaves and fish. I wish I could heal people who come to me in need. And I wish I could call down fire from heaven when I get mad at people like Elijah did. That would be so cool, but most likely illegal. In the Bible signs and wonders have helped to spread the message that God wants proclaimed. In today’s world signs and wonders are harder to come by, and so there must be other ways that God works to get the message out.
The story of Jonah starts with pretty impressive signs from God. Jonah refusing to do The Lord’s bidding jumps on a ship and heads in the opposite direction (Jonah 1:3). The ship is assailed by a huge storm and Jonah goes overboard only to be swallowed by what one would think is a very sizable aquatic creature (Jonah 1:17). This impressive demonstration of God’s power to persuade a person like Jonah, convinces him to go and to proclaim God’s message of repentance to the people of Nineveh. Which leads to the first principle of Biblical marketing; proclamation.
Jonah and the rest of the prophets were not the only ones who proclaimed a message from The Lord. Jesus proclaimed the Good News of the Kingdom of Heaven to everyone he met. The great sermon Jesus preached from the mountainside lasts three chapters in the book of Matthew (Matt 5-7). In that sermon Jesus gives us the Beatitudes, the Lord’s Prayer, the house built upon the sand parable and many more sayings that are of huge importance to the Christian faith. Thus proclamation is of major importance to the Christian missionary.
The Internet helps us reach our core audience with the concept of Keywords. Keywords describe the words or phrases we type into a search engine. If one is interested in finding a restaurant in New York City, one types in “restaurant NYC” and up pops a lengthy listing of all the restaurants in the Big Apple. For the purposes of Internet Mission we need to find Keywords that will bring to our site those who are interested in our proclamation on behalf of the Kingdom. And example of this would be an essay on the workings of the Holy Spirit. We would want the Keywords, Holy Spirit, to be in the title. It would also be wise to look at frequency of people searching for different combinations of the phrase; Holy Ghost, Spirit of God, Spirit of Jesus, etc… Google’s AdWords Keyword tool will allow us to type in the different phrases to find the one that will bring the most traffic to our site.[1] And so it is very possible to engage in the proclamation of the Word. Proclamation on the Internet is done with the help of Keywords.
Jesus was pretty good at the signs and wonders business. Raising Lazarus from the dead was an impressive demonstration of God’s power. Jesus was also very good at personal evangelism. And the Internet allows us to follow Jesus’ example and pursue a ministry of personal evangelism.
Jesus shows his excellent personal evangelism skills in the story of the Samaritan Woman (John 4:1-42). He starts by showing the woman respect. A Judean man of that era would not be too open to a relationship with a Samaritan, the hated cousins. A respectable man of that era would also not approach and speak with an unknown woman, unless she was a prostitute and he was looking for a good time. Jesus ignores these social mores and engages the woman as if she were a person who deserved her respect, which of course she does. Jesus then moves the conversation to the topic of the Kingdom of Heaven. He stays on topic, despite her best efforts to take him in a different direction. Jesus is interested in helping her see that she is valued by God, and that the Kingdom is open to her, just as it is to everyone else.
In the same way we can do personal evangelism on the Internet. The wonderful thing about social networking is that the information super highway moves in two directions. Facebook is mostly used by people to call the world’s attention to insignificant details of their lives. However, one can strike up a conversation with the poster in the comment bar under the message. This is an excellent way to reach out to people using the technique that Jesus practices with the Samaritan woman. Comments that treat the person with respect and point to the Kingdom of Heaven are very doable on social networking websites. The creation of the world wide social network has opened the path for international evangelism like nothing else.

God bless you,

Pastor Bill

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