If you are looking for creative ways to witness to unbelievers, there is a small chance that you may only be scratching the surface of one of the best ways to spread the gospel: digital discipleship.
There is a whole digital world that is waiting to know about Jesus. Yes, they may see the “verse of the day” or things in the news about Christianity, but there is a whole online arena that is waiting to hear about a personal relationship with Jesus and how that can change their life forever.
The only issue is, sometimes we get caught up in the do’s and don’ts about Jesus instead of talking about a deep personal relationship. If we can make the switch to talking about that online, it may make all the difference.
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What is discipleship?
Discipleship is simply this: a follower of a specific person or doctrine.
Actually, the term discipleship is actually a bit ambiguous in itself. Many people use it in different ways in today’s world.
The term “disciples” appears in the New Testament. It appears as the Greek word, mathēteuō, when referring to making disciples. The Greek word means “helping others”.
We first hear about the word “disciples” in Matthew 28:19:
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Making disciples meant making followers of Jesus with the purpose of them getting baptized and then in return sharing the news of Jesus with others.
We also see “disciples” in Acts 14:21
They preached the gospel in that city and won a large number of disciples. Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch.
If we look at discipleship in the Biblical sense, it is going to mean making followers of Jesus.
What is digital discipleship?
Digital discipleship is simply being a disciple of Jesus digitally.
It is a type of discipleship that shares the love of Jesus and explains Him in a way to people that helps them say “yes” to allowing Jesus in their life, and then, in turn, adding to the ripple effect by sharing the news with others.
What the more important question is though is why we need digital discipleship.
Why do we need digital discipleship?:
Here is a great example of why we need digital discipleship.
The other day was full of errands. I went to three different stores all around town. It took about three hours in total. When I got home, I sorted through some Amazon boxes that were delivered for my daughter’s upcoming birthday.
Can you believe that I went for three hours, in three different stores, and I never spoke to anyone?
Related: Dear Faith Blogger
You probably can believe that actually.
In the days of self-checkout, Amazon, and robots it is easy to go way too long without having a real conversation. Actually, unless you make the effort, you could go even days without having real talk with anyone.
A lot of times, we tend to blast the digital world. We (ironically) post things about “real family time” instead of screen time, and we (ironically) go to the web to talk about all the dangers of being online too much.
But what if, in a new decade, we turned the digital world into a world where people could find more Jesus?
How to spread the gospel to unbelievers: General Do’s and Dont’s
Here’s the issue. Too many of us are not spreading the news about Jesus. We are cherry-picking Bible verses to prove our point online.
And trust me, this is not me pointing a finger at anyone. I have been guilty of this as well. Actually, me using the Bible incorrectly online in the past is part of what has inspired me to make my life mission of teaching people about sharing Jesus online.
Before we dive into examples, let me put it simply. Here are the two major ways I knew I wasn’t reaching out to people online about Jesus.
- Everyone on all my social media feeds was Christian, posting similar things as me.
- The only “likes” I was getting on any of my Christian content was by other Christians.
Since I noticed that, I go out of my way (especially on Twitter) to engage with non-Christians so they can see my content.
Related: How to Share Jesus with Others
“Verse of the Day”
If you post “the verse of the day”, that is awesome. It is a really cool way to share parts of the Bible to others that they may not know about yet.
However, sometimes we leave it at that and those verses of the day are the only way that the digital world knows we are Christian. And that doesn’t leave anyone changing their mind about Jesus. You’ll see that because usually the only people that “like” the verse of the day are other Christians.
If we are going to share “verse of the day”, we must keep in mind that for some people, the Bible is still just a “book” and those words aren’t going to mean anything to them.
So to turn “verse of the day” into digital discipleship, we can do three things:
- Make sure that we are posting a variety of content, not just verses from the Bible
- Add a story or some context into the verse of the day to help someone understand it.
- Never use the verse of the day to try to prove a point online
Posting a Variety of Content
Posting a variety of content gives people a full understanding of the Bible and Jesus. This could include:
- Sermon videos
- Videos from you explaining verses and how they apply in your life
- Raw, real discussions of the hard parts of being a Christian
- Inspiring articles
- Live videos on Instagram
- And more!
One of my videos that has done the best so far is called “Jesus stole my cellphone”. It is enough of a title to gather curiosity about what my message was about. My whole video is how God will do some crazy things to try to get us to listen to Him (it didn’t stop with Moses and the burning bush!), but if I had labeled the video something like “My experience with God trying to talk to me”, people that don’t have a relationship with God most likely aren’t going to click on it because they don’t care how God is trying to talk to me.
Another thing with posting a variety of content is that you are going to get a variety of people that show up. A great example of this is Instagram Live.
Do you know that when you do an Instagram live, Instagram does not only show it to your followers? They also show it to some select people that are following your followers.
I did a Facebook live the other day, at what I thought was a bad time because it said that only 20 of my followers were online, but I ended up with 10 people (none of whom followed me/I was following) listen in. It made me realize halfway through the video that I was on a platform where I could be relatable- I was live (and if you follow me live you KNOW I am prone to mistakes! It is like a live-action blooper reel some days) and that I had an opportunity to explain a personal relationship with Jesus in a way that was accessible.
We have those moments everyday online if we choose to accept them.
Adding context is an amazing way to promote digital discipleship, and it can be one of the easiest ways to learn how to spread the gospel online.
If you post a Bible verse, it can be super helpful to explain the context around the verse to help people understand its importance.
You can either add Biblical context or personal context.
Biblical context would be explaining what was going on in that part of the Bible that made this verse super important.
Personal context would be explaining how this verse applies to your life. In turn, that may slowly help people understand the idea that the Bible is not just a “book” but a way of life.
Michael Todd from Transformation Church explains this best. He talks about the “verse of the day” in his sermon on the “fear of missing out”, and how when we only live on that, it is getting snack-size parts of the Bible. He uses the example of eating a bunch of fruit snacks throughout the day. By nighttime, you are going to be hangry. We cannot live on verses of the day alone.
The Bible should only be a weapon against the enemy, not people
For some of you reading this, you may have a blog that I was actively engaging in, and then suddenly I disappeared.
Or maybe you have had a similar situation with someone else. Maybe they were always the first to comment and engage with your posts, and all of a sudden it seems like they aren’t around anymore.
This may not always be the reason, but sometimes we unknowingly alienate people from our work (and thus from God’s mission) when we use the Bible to try to prove our political points.
Unless you have a political blog, it is best to avoid politics altogether.The Bible should be a weapon against the enemy, NOT the people! Click To Tweet
I understand that it may be something that you are strongly passionate about. Or it may be something so ingrained into church life that you just feel that everyone believes that way/should believe that way.
But when we choose to mix politics in with this, we are missing the bigger picture. We don’t want people to never learn about Jesus because we felt the need to share a political sentiment.
This has happened to me multiple times within the last few months. There were blogs that I was eating up and savoring every word, and then I saw a post or a tweet that made me feel alienated. It made me feel that because I didn’t support their beliefs that suddenly it meant that I didn’t believe in the Bible. I almost never unfollow, but I have quite a few times in the last few months for my emotional wellbeing to make sure I didn’t constantly feel targeted online.
If you catch yourself in political debates and pulling out the Word of God, take some time to really examine and pray about the bigger picture of what Jesus has called us to do, and then see if it is worth responding to that post or tweet.
Digital Discipleship Means Showing People the Way to Christ
If you scrolled through this to the bottom (no judgment!), here is the most important thing you should know about digital discipleship:
You cannot convert someone to Jesus Christ.
What?! A whole thing about how to spread the Gospel and ways to witness to unbelievers just for me to say that you can’t convert someone?!
All we can do is lead people to Christ. It is God that does the converting.
Sometimes, we get so caught up in trying to convince people about Jesus that we easily forget this and we become “pushy Christians”. We become the “stereotypical evangelicals” that many in the online world try to avoid.
We need to make sure that we become the people that make others wonder “What is so different about that person?” enough to make them approach Jesus themselves. Only Jesus can work in someone’s heart. We simply are the disciples that teach the ways of Jesus enough to make them open to them coming to Jesus.