Witness Through Servant Behavior
Giving witness to young adults is one of the biggest challenges facing churches today. Building up attractional community churches is one answer, and many are doing well. Developing small missional communities beyond the building is another promising approach.
What about reaching out through social media? This is the natural habitat for so many young adults. Can such media be used to start exchanges with Gospel content? Here is a proposal to think about. Consider Contacts, Content, Personal Involvement, and Virtual Church Community.
One way to grow your contacts is to advertise on social media like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or Twitter. Those costs are minimal. But so are the responses. Marketers think in terms of a funnel with many contacts at the top-yielding small numbers at the bottom. With a little imagination, funding for such media campaigns can be found among older supporters of mission outreach.
I’ve also found just intentionally connecting to new fellow pastors and colleagues on LinkedIn and Facebook has grown my audience tremendously. 3 years ago I didn’t even have a LinkedIn account. Presently I have almost 5,000 connections on LinkedIn and I’m actively involved in 7 groups. Similarly, 3 years ago I could not be found on Facebook and now I have over 2,500 friends and about 1,200 followers and I’m actively involved in 11 groups on Facebook.
The content for such advertising needs to be well thought out. Confrontational messages won’t bring much response. Decades ago, a popular evangelism program had people knocking on doors and asking, If you would die tonight, where do you think you will go? That’s a very intrusive question from a stranger. Announcing versions of Jesus Saves won’t get far, either.
Rather, think about sending out invitations that address the needs of young adults. We know many feel lost in a world without a higher purpose. Many long for a sense of community. Advertise invitations to find better anchorage in daily living or variations that address felt needs. Graphics are basic to good communication today. If you can, design your own. Or you can buy the services of a professional. Again, older adults can help with expenses.
Here is where the Servant Behavior comes in. Make the advertised message personal. “Here is what I have found.” Give your name and contact information. Be ready to respond to those who accept your invitation. Stay in contact. Develop personal relationships.
A blog-reader shared his involvement. “I think the Christian community as a whole could do a better job inserting itself into the narratives people are portraying or are viewing on social media. For example, I have an ‘anonymous’ Instagram account that doesn’t link back to me personally, but I use it daily to interact with people who share my hobbies and interests. I make it a point to post daily pictures or messages. But I only subtly interject faith-based commentary and imagery every couple weeks.”
Virtual Church Community
We naturally think of community in terms of face-to-face relationships. But we are all learning to recognize virtual communities for ongoing relationships. The pandemic taught churches to video stream their worship service, in many cases to a viewership larger than those who had gathered physically. Zooming has become a way of life. In the digital world, physical distance becomes irrelevant.
The best Gospel witness brings individuals into the community life of a specific congregation. It is such a congregation that can best support individual media evangelists. It can fold those exploring Christ into an ongoing Christian fellowship of believers who are worshiping God and working out their faith in daily living. It is the ministries of a specific congregation that can best support and shape new believers wherever they live.