When Michael White e-mailed me to say that the new release of Digital Evangelism: You Can Do It Too! was in the works, I smiled really big. The thought of his book took me back to 1994 when I was a corporate communicator. My boss walked in one morning and said, “I like this Internet thing”, and demanded I design a web site and have it “up” within two weeks. “Up” where, I wasn’t sure. At that point I’d barely looked at a dozen web sites total. Even e-mail was still a novel thing, especially when it came to sending messages to large groups. Just how was that accomplished?
One of my favorite resources for answering Internet technology questions has been Michael White’s book’s Digital Evangelism: You Can Do It Too! Michael is a pastor, military chaplain, author, and independent Christian publisher with a passion for sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I used Michael’s first book, released in 2004, in the corporate arena as well as at church. However, in ministry it proved to be a frequent go-to resource as it answered a wealth of technology and ministry questions far beyond the basic head scratchers.
When I got the prepress copy of the new release, I couldn’t wait to delve in. All the great principles are still there from the first book, but it has been masterfully updated. The glossary was helpful then and in its updated form, it’s valuable now. Further, Operating System (OS) references are current, and Michael has included new chapters about digital video and audio, worth the price of the book. Screenshots - especially useful in the first book - are new and abundant. Several years bear witness to just how solid the book was originally with its great strategic advice.
Michael covers web site creation right off the bat and in the new edition, also gives you some excellent advice on finding services that will take most, if not all of this workload off of you, affordably. That’s chapter one. Chapter two explains how to start an e-mail prayer list which, by the way, is the single most impressive contribution I’ve ever personally seen a church member make. A retired postal worker joined our church, began an e-mail prayer list, and for years has made a monumental impact, more than any other single contribution I can think of. In chapter three Michael shows you how to create an e-mail announcements list and in chapter four, he shows you how to write an electronic newsletter. All of these are close kin but each have important differences which Michael explains well.
Chapter five explains how to offer computer classes, still one of the best digital ministry ideas of all time and never more relevant, especially in this, the social media era. Chapter six explains how to conduct a public literacy and education program, another great ministry approach. Michael is right that people of all ages have great interest in technology, a terrific way to connect with them, which makes chapter seven, organizing a Christian computer café, excellent strategy.
Chapter eight will show you how to organize a computer club or users group, and with interest in small group ministry as high as it is, this idea would be a natural fit. Chapter nine covers audio and video, in my opinion, information that is worth the price of the book. Once upon a time it took an astronomical budget to include audio/video in our outreach efforts. Now computers come with much of the needed resources on board and digital cameras are extremely affordable.
The Internet fosters conversation. This bi-directional — conversational — approach is something we communicators have had to learn. Michael was ahead of his time in the first book in talking about e-mail discussion lists and discussion forums. He covers these topics in chapter 10 and chapter 11 and segues naturally into using social media to connect with others in chapter 12. With the arrival of social media — Facebook, Twitter and several other services — we have resources that make sharing our faith easier than it has ever been.
Chapter 13 alleviates the common fears about digital security and he puts a nice, pretty bow on the entire book in chapter 14 when he summarizes the effort to conduct digital evangelism.
It all boils down to this: We have work to do, far beyond having a web site. Michael has given us the tool to help us do the job well.
“There’s much more to do in the way of digital ministry than simply creating a web site and leaving it alone to grow stale through lack of management,” Michael says. “The Internet is not merely a channel by which the Church is to promote itself; the power of the Internet must be harnessed to evangelize the world, or else it is being woefully underutilized and/or even misused,” he says.
Of course, now we don’t need major financial resources to have an extensive reach.
“We can now share the Gospel with people we would never have the opportunity to meet or communicate with before the arrival of computers and the World Wide Web,” Michael says.
“We don’t have to be a famous television evangelist or other TV or radio personality to be seen or heard anymore. Most of these digital tools are already included with our latest computer purchase, so we don’t have to spend an inordinate amount of money to participate in digital evangelism,” he adds.
Michael says he hopes his new book will help foster a “world wide spiritual revival for the purpose of evangelism.”
Most certainly, the tools to reach people in unprecedented ways have been given to us and astonishingly, a vast amount of people who need to hear the message have been assembled for us, thanks to the Internet. We just have to share the Gospel. Yes, as the book title says: You can do it too! We must do it now.
“My heart’s desire is for the average Christian to become so enamored with Jesus and the joy of sharing His Good News with those in need of hearing it that he or she will begin evangelizing to whomever, wherever, whenever and however possible.”
Digital Evangelism: You Can Do It Too! is worth every cent. Purchase a copy for yourself and for each person in leadership around you. Put the principles into practice. You’ll find that it is a go-to resource time and again. It will help you make a difference for eternity.
To order the book, visit www.parsonplacepress.com/store for more details.----