Evangelism and Education Internetizing Plans
These plans could be adapted and used by any individuals, organizations and companies.
The religion of Jesus of Nazareth has been evangelized by Christians preaching Gospel in individual and group meetings for almost two millenniums ever since Jesus Christ’s “sermon on the mount.” Ministers, missionaries and laymen alike have propagated the religion in person through churches, assemblies, classrooms, homes and streets around the world. Telephone, radio and television have been used since late 19th Century to proselytize people from other religions and atheism to Christianity. Computer technological inventions and advancements since 1950s have exponentially grown to where Personal Computers, pads, tablets, mobile phones and wearable gadgets are now connecting people anytime anywhere. Today the incredibly powerful multi-purpose “Smartphone” is in the hands of billions of people everywhere. It is used as a phone, camera, video recorder, currency exchange and communication device to find/hear/view/learn anything at anytime from anywhere through the Internet.
It is a perfect opportunity for churches to effectively utilize the Internet and digital devices as a means to evangelize Christianity throughout the world. These tools allow ministers, missionaries and laymen to communicate with literally billions of people beyond the boundaries of nations’ territories, political ideologies, religious denominations and church buildings. Several churches and other religious organizations in Korean, American and other communities have used the Internet for evangelism in the past several years as reported in New York Hankuk Ilbo http://ny.koreatimes.com/article/900696http://www.shelterrockchurch.com/category/exploregod/.
Additionally, in order to supplement evangelism, churches should utilize these same tools to organize and implement educational programs based on real life needs. They include English language training, computer basics, navigating the Internet, health, laws, business management and other important subjects desirable to Christians as wells as non-Christians. They could be done locally and worldwide using the Internet technologies readily available today. Online courses have been offered to general public for years by educational institutions, religious organizations, governments and businesses. Korean American newspaper JoongAng Ilbo has recently started offering useful online courses at www.J-EduCenter.com as part of their public relations and services campaign. Churches, large and small, should start similar educational programs to reinforce their missions of spreading Christianity at much faster rate around the world.
Evangelical and Educational Program Financing
The costs of propagating Christianity and education through the Internet are relatively inexpensive at the beginning. The cost would increase as more sophisticated tools and techniques are used. However, they could be made not only self-sustaining, but also more cost effective than the traditional evangelical methods. The Church organized educational programs could also be sufficiently financed by their subscribers, advertisements, charitable organizations, corporations and/or governmental agencies. An example could be seen in www.KhanAcademy.org which is financially supported by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (www.gatesfoundation.org). If the Korean Community Services “KCS” Center could recently receive $48,700 donation from Time Warner Cable company for community computer education (http://www.koreatimes.com/article/921910), there is no reason why churches couldn’t receive similar grants from the company and like-minded firms and foundations.
With the hardware and software technologies readily available today, religious sermons, other worthy Christian activities and educational courses could be viewed and listened by anyone at any time from any place on their own PCs, pads, tablets, smartphones and other wearable gadgets. The sooner they are accomplished, the better for the expansion of Christianity. Proposed below are some specific plans and steps to that end.
A. Internetize Evangelism
pload and update sermons, worthwhile religious and training activities free of charge to www.YouTube.com
2. Evaluate, try out free and choose one or two of the Internet communication/teleconferencing software out of those available in the market (e.g. www.GoToMeeting.com, www.webex.com, www.LogMeIn.com, www.TeamViewer.com www.Skype.comwww.BlueJeans.com. The cost of the most expensive ones is less than $100/Month for 200 participants, whereas that of others is either free or paid only for phone calls by online attendees. If the participants could use Internet phones or hear and see the presentations directly from their own devices, they don’t even have to pay for any phone calls. They allow anyone not only to hear, see and interactively participate in the meetings at the same time. Additionally, the sessions could be recorded and replayed by anyone anytime from anywhere in the world. It would be very much like watching what is in www.YouTube.com.
4. Register a domain name (e.g. www.iEvangelists.com) through an Internet Domain Name Service Provider (e.g. www.GoDaddy.com at a cost of about $20 per year. Setup blogs with that domain or church domain names through www.Blogger.com at no charge or www.WordPress.com at a nominal charge, and post sermons and any other worthwhile activities there.
5. Establish accounts with popular social media (e.g. www.Facebook.com, www.LinkedIn.com, www.Twitter.com, www.Instagram.com), link them to the blogs (e.g. www.KorAmeNews.com and http://www.toptensocialmedia.com/social-media-social-buzz/the-ten-best-christian-blogs-in-2014/) for the purpose of propagating Gospel. Setup links there to make as many people as possible to “Like” them. It thereby enables those links to automatically appear on their social media utilized on the users’ own handy electronic devices (e.g. PC, pad, tablet and smartphone).
B. Local and Online Educational Programs
1. Organize and record several regularly scheduled training programs on such subjects as English, computer basics, Internet navigation, health, business, laws and any other worthwhile subjects to educate people and support the evangelism. People would come to church or join the online training to learn what they really need free of charge, especially if the courses are conveniently scheduled for participants. If some people could not attend, they should always be allowed to replay the recorded educational sessions from the church websites at their convenient time and location.
2. These educational programs could be organized and planned to take place before Wednesday and Friday night services, for example 7 pm to 8 pm before worship services starting at 8:30 pm. If desirable, they should be expanded to schedule them, regularly or as needed basis, shortly after weekday early-morning prayer and/or Sunday worship services. If people could stay a little longer before or after the services, it would be great for them to take advantage of their useful learning because they are there anyway. Churches should invite non-Christians to the offline or online training sessions and worship services through their own members, advertisements and social media. Some people might come to Church primarily for that education and possibly join the Church, it is really wonderful for both the Church and the attendees. If this is not evangelistic and missionary work, what is?
3. To accomplish these objectives, locate and solicit capable volunteers and/or paid specialists of various educational subjects. It is necessary to find at least a few instructors on each subject to cover for each other in the event the instructor is out sick or on vacation or cannot make it to the class for one reason or another. There are many experts and professionals available who are willing to volunteer to teach as part of their individuals’ or companies’ business promotional marketing efforts.
4. When these trainings are available locally as well as online, they would help create the church membership growth in and out of church buildings, (i.e. Evangelism). There is no need to worry about the local church cannibalism from the standpoint of Christianity as a whole so long as the trainees become Christians wherever they are. However, most people prefer to seeing and hearing directly, as opposed to viewing online, Pastors’ sermons.
C. Funding for Evangelical and Educational Programs
1. Churches could always ask for voluntary contributions to the Christian and educational program supporters and benefiting subscribers.
2. The religious organizations could always solicit and place paid advertisements on their websites, blogs and wherever else they publicize Christianity and educational programs.
3. They could also request donations and grants to charity organizations, businesses and government agencies to support, sustain and expand the educational programs for common good.
4. In order to make these payments/donations/grants easy for them, set up bank accounts to credit online directly to various designated accounts by Credit/Debit Cards, PayPal, ApplePay, Samsung Pay, Google Wallet or any other payment methods.
D. Infrastructural Change and Groundwork
1. Make all documents and materials bilingual, Korean and English, so that ALL generations of Koreans and Americans could understand and follow. The language translations should be done either line by line, paragraph by paragraph, and/or side by side for easier recognition.
2. In order to sustain and expand both evangelical and educational programs proposed above, it is essential and necessary to have appropriate computerized systems in place. It is because those YouTube, websites and social media are not only dormant and useless but also do nothing unless people intentionally search for something of their interests and/or they are periodically reminded of the programs.
3. In terms of hardware, churches could easily start with one PC they have already. If churches have enough funds, they could set up a Local Area Network (LAN) Server computer system and linked PCs with Wireless Router connected to Internet. It should have an external hard disk and subscribe to Cloud services for data backup/restore purposes.
4. In software any church could start with the installation of inexpensive Microsoft Office 365 (Access, Excel, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint, Publishing and Word) costing less than $200, if not there using already. Of the Microsoft Office 365 programs, Outlook is an outstanding software for contact information management and email services. That is why most companies use Outlook for those purposes. For less than $10/Month, the entire MS Office 365 data could be wirelessly backed up constantly in Microsoft Cloud which allows to automatically restore them to a new PC, LAN Server and/or Smartphones in case they are damaged or lost.
5. If Microsoft Office 365 is not good enough, churches could upgrade later to a church management system and/or to a more comprehensive CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software.
6. Create and maintain a comprehensive database of elements such as Name, Home Address, Email Addresses, Home/Office/Mobile Phone Numbers, business/job information, position/job titles, groups, interests, contributions, activities, and etc. of church members and prospects. They should be categorized in such a way to be effectively and selectively used for a variety of purposes. It is very important to include Email Addresses in any church printed/digital membership directories so that they could electronically communicate directly between church members.
7. Grant limited/unlimited remote access rights of those databases and other application systems to key personnel so that they could utilize and manage the databases and programs at any time from church office. It is important to have those key personnel sign the agreement to keep the certain data confidential and not to use the Church data and programs for personal use and/or expose them to unauthorized others.
8. Someday these Internetized evangelistic and educational programs could be made available not just in Korean and English, but also in Spanish, French, German, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, Swahili, and any other languages around the world. Then the Christianity online evangelism and education will be truly globalized reaching every corner on Earth.
E. Immediately Actionable Tasks
1. In addition to their designated functions, these application programs and databases should be used to periodically communicate via the Internet with the church membership and prospects for any purposes such as meeting notices, program notifications, publication distributions, evangelical and educational service propagation and any other objectives needed for the church.
2. Instead of church members carrying the bulky printed Bibles and Hymnal, urge them to download the bilingual Bible and Hymnal to their Smartphones so that they could use them to simultaneously learn the Words, Hymns and English anytime anywhere.
3. Church staff should regularly (e.g. Weekly) send the Church Pastors’ sermon, training and other important activity links by email, KakaoTalk and text message to its entire congregation and prospects in the computer system. And, they should proactively urge them to forward the links to their own friends, families, associates and acquaintances to spread the evangelical and educational messages. The recipients of these links could then forward the messages to their own contacts on and on without limits to propagate Christianity, like “endless multi-level marketing”. This is truly the way to internetizing Christianity evangelism and missionary work all over the world.
4. They all could view/hear/share evangelical/educational information on their own Smartphones at any convenient time and place of their choice. It is much less expensive and fast to use emails, KakaoTalk, text messages and any other electronic communication tools than the costs of traditional regular mailing that requires postage stamps, mailing time, effort and materials. It makes religious organizations electronically and cost-effectively connected instantly at any time with their congregation and potential Christians.
5. In order to run these programs properly, it is extremely important to manage, control and supervise church staff to effectively manage those systems without violating individual privacy and secure and protect the databases and systems from being hacked, damaged and/or destroyed.
6. Church management team should periodically take scientific surveys and review the processes and procedures to constantly improve and enhance ways to deliver the needed services, programs and messages to spread Christianity to people all over the world.
7. To get these Internetized evangelism and education programs off the ground, a relatively small group composed of knowledgeable individuals in relevant fields should be organized. They estimate the project costs, get the budget approved, plan out the task details, assign responsibilities to different persons/departments, come up with an implementation schedule and start implementing programs step by step.
8. Church senior management must get directly involved to control, monitor and enhance the project progress at all times. Otherwise, the project will most likely fail.
Achievable Realistic Ideals
These proposals are not reckless dreams, but ways of the future as well as realistic ideals that could be accomplished today. They could be gradually achieved in a relatively short period of time for the betterment of Christian life. They can be accomplished only if the Church management concurs and pushes for them on an ongoing basis. Otherwise, they will either never get off the ground or discontinued in mid-stream. Internetizing Christianity and education is not the question of if, but when they will be done. If that were the case, it is far better to start them early than later.
God has given us all the tools and wherewithal to act today! What more are we waiting for?
By Yong Chul Shin, June 29, firstname.lastname@example.org