Tag Archives: evangelism

Just a click away

One of the things that I repeatedly say when I talk to people about our ministry is that this generation is a visual generation, a narrative generation and an online generation. If we are serious about reaching this generation with the gospel then we need to be communicating to them in this way.

So here’s a story that explains exactly why we need to use the internet to communicate the gospel. By doing so, we bring the gospel to where it is just a click away from the people who need it.

Soularium Training Videos

Our good friends who developed the Soularium conversation-starter tool have produced a couple fo training videos. Check them out …

Getting Started …

… and Going Deeper

We have our own contextualised version of Soularium in Hong Kong called YingSeung (影想).

And friends of ours have developed an iOS vesion of their contextualisation of the tool called HeartMirror. Check them out.

Watch … Think … Chat

It is imperative as we go out to fulfill the Great Commission that we go to where people are. And if we are going to reach the emerging generation, then that means that we must go on the internet, particularly onto social networks to engage them in conversation aout the gospel.

Finding ways in which we can do this successfully is one of the main goals of my work in developing creative evangelism strategies for our campuses.

In July we took three students from Hong Kong to New Zealand for V20, a conference of 600 students from all over the Asia-Pacific region. Usually at conferences like these in New Zealand we would have a day of outreach in the local community. However, with 600 students, this would have been overwhelming for the small local community where we were situated. Therefore we explored the possibility of running an online component to our outreach. We ended up with 200 students – a third of those at the conference participating in our online outreach. All of them were crowded into a small chapel with about 50 computers, creating a buzz like the floor of a stock exchange or a telethon, as people yelled out that they got a response to a message they had posted to their friends, or saw the screen up the front as it showed the number of views we had tick over 1000, or 5000.

We set up a website (www.watchthinkchat.com) which included the latest anime short film produced by the Jesus film (My Last Day) followed by a short gospel presentation and an opportunity for visitors to then have a live chat with one of our students.

My Last Day KGP

Each of the students involved in the outreach posted a link to the website, and we also did some promotion through some Facebook fan pages. Over the course of the afternoon we had 10,000 people watch the short film, including visitors from Saudi Arabia and Iran. 2000 of those who viewed the film were friends of our students, from which we were abe to have 200 live chats about the gospel leading to two people indicating decisions to trust Christ.

The best thing about this outreach though, was that the vast majority of spiritual conversations that were initiated were with people that the students already knew, and would be in contact with again after the conference. I believe that the gospel spreads most quickly and effectively along relational networks, and an outreach like this, although at first it may seem less personal, actually maximizes the use of our students’ personal networks, as well as helping them to initiate those often hard-to-start spiritual conversations with their friends.

On the Facebook group for the conference there have been posts by students about follow-up conversations they have been able to have like this one: “I’ll meet up with a girl who became a Christian through the internet outreach at v20 tomorrow lunch time!!”

Another win was seeing many students eyes opened as to how they can use the internet to share their faith: “Just used Yahoo Answers for evangelism. If anyone has some spare time and wants people to talk about about God, there are hundreds of people asking questions about God on it all the time.

On a more technical note, it was encouraging to see that we had a high click-through rate for the link we posted with approximately one of of every six people who saw the link clicking through to watch the video. This is a very high rate for Facebook (or anything on the internet actually!)

Our challenge now is to take the lessons that we have learned from this experience to refine our strategy to be more effective, and also to recreate this experience on our campuses around the world. Please pray for this as we are in the process of developing GodChat, a tool to help us run online outreaches like these more effectively, taking advantage of the unique opportunities that social networks give us. We hope to have this up and running and available for people to use around the world by the end of the year.


This is the film we shot at our short film project in the summer of 2010. I had wanted for the last year to re-edit it to make it a bit shorter and fix a few things up. Well, here it is …

with Chinese subtitles

and with English subtitles

The idea of the films we make is to spark spiritual conversations. Aaron Sorkin’s comment in response to the question about his film The Social Network, whether Mark Zuckerberg or his “friends'” stories were correct was: “That’s the sort of conversation I want people to have in the parking lot after the movie.” My attitude to the films we produce is the same – we want them to be conversation-starters, not conversation-stoppers. So please share this on Facebook, Twitter, email or whatever and see what conversations start.

A Story Matrix for Evangelism

Design Empathy Symphony Play/Fun Meaning
Your Story
My Story
God’s Story

Let’s start off with some basic definition for the labels across the top:

Design: The aesthetic qualities that attract us to something. The quality of the art.

Empathy: The connection to the emotions of the audience.

Symphony: The combining of different elements in harmony.

Play/Fun: The ability to stimulate a sense of enjoyment.

Meaning: The connection to a greater significance.

And now some definitions for those down the side:

Your Story: The story of the person we are speaking to.

My Story: The story of my life and experience.

God’s story: The story of God’s interaction with the world.

And now let’s ask ourselves. If this is a matrix of our evangelistic engagement with someone, how comprehensive (i.e. how many of these bases have we got covered) in our evangelism?

Perhaps a lot of our evangelism has been stuck in just the one cell in the bottom right hand corner. Perhaps we have been regularly including a few of these elements. But the challenge for us is to include all of these elements to provide a comprehensive, holistic engagement of our audience in evangelism.

And then, of course, the next question is, “Well, how do we do that?”

What do you think?

[This table is adapted from one used at the Inside Story 2006 conference as explained in the Story4All podcast episode 39]



We’ve all reached that point in sharing the gospel, when we’ve shot all of our bullets. All of the arguments and evidence that we’ve learnt and stored up to convince someone of the truth of the gospel have failed to bring them around. What do we do? Seth Godin recently blogged about how for many people in many situations, there is nothing that you can tell them that would change their mind.

He suggests that the solution is not more evidence. He gives the example of someone who thought the polio vaccine was bad. When he tried to convince the person with evidence, he met the reply of “that’s all faked, promoted by the pharma business.” Someone with an assumption of suspicion towards an idea or group, will always be able to interpret the evidence in such a way that confirms their assumptions.

So what do we do? We tell stories. Not just any old stories. They have to be stories from people who the persons trusts implicitly. And they have to be conversion stories. Telling how they came to move away from these unshakeable assumptions.

“What would change his mind, what would change the mind of many people resistant to evidence is a series of eager testimonials from other tribe members who have changed their minds. When people who are respected in a social or professional circle clearly and loudly proclaim that they’ve changed their minds, a ripple effect starts. First, peer pressure tries to repress these flip-flopping outliers. But if they persist in their new mindset, over time others may come along. Soon, the majority flips. It’s not easy or fast, but it happens.”

And this is what we are called to do in sharing the gospel. As an insider, as a scientist, or artist, or entrepreneur, or whatever we do, we are called to shake the anti-gospel assumptions that the world makes about how we should live and work in those arenas, by telling our story of how Jesus broke us out of those assumptions.

Social Media

The latest version of this video is doing the rounds again. One statistic that jumped out at me is that 78% of people trust peer recommendations and only 14% trust advertisements. I often ask people how many of them have clicked on a Facebook ad, or how often they click on a Facebook ad – most people never do. I then follow that up with how many click on links posted by their friends and most do quite regularly. So this statistic backs up the anecdotal evidence I have been getting, and it also makes sense as this generation is more relationally-oriented than previous generations.

The real question we need to ask though, is what implications does this have for how we communicate the gospel online?

My Cravings

A few years agoMy Cravings I had the privilege of discipling Tim, a Canadian who was doing an exchange year in Hong Kong. Since then he has joined staff with Campus Crusade in Canada (which is called Power to Change there) and is now the assistant to the President there. A couple of months ago he let me know about the new evangelism campaign they were running in Canada, called My Cravings. Last month, at a conference in Singapore I got to talk to a couple of Canadian staff who have been part of the team developing the campaign.

They freely admit that the basic premise of the campaign is borrowed from the UK, who borrowed it from NZ ( “Are You Connected?”, where I was part of the team that put the campaign together.) But I am really impressed with what these guys have done, they have really brought things into the 21st century (“Are You Connected?” was in the 21st century – just, but the world has changed a lot in 9 years!) and have made some changes and developments that I think are really key in reaching this generation of students.

To start off with I think their theme is awesome. They have structured the whole campaign around the idea of “Cravings”, that we all have cravings, or deep desires for things in life, and how these cravings flow out of our being created in God’s image and our deepest desire, to be connected to God. They use a small book and a video by Erwin McManus called Soul Cravings to communicate these ideas very professionally.

They have plans to produce testimonies, videos and other resources related to eight major cravings that they have identified, and have started on the process of that. During university orientation they have been collecting responses from students as students have signed up for a prize draw, and they can see which of these cravings have the greatest interest or resonance on different campuses. This is a very intelligent approach and one which I am sure will bear fruit further on down the line. You can see some of the videos on their vimeo channel.

The first instalment of the MyCravings campaign has involved a contest across Canada’s university campuses called Paid vs Aid. Students enter a draw to win $1000 that can go towards their tuition or one of three charities to provide, water, shelter, or help orphans. It has certainly helped start conversations on campus. The University of Alberta newspaper has produced a lively opinion piece on it.

So, in summary why do I think this is a successful campaign, and what can we learn from it?

  • They have found connection points that resonates with today’s post-modern students
  • Their campaign is flexible for people with a wide variety of connection points
  • They have high-quality, professional resources
  • They are thinking intelligently and strategically about how to connect with the lost
  • They are continuing the conversation on Facebook and Vimeo

Integrated and Interactive Media

No. I haven’t disappeared off the face of the earth, but things have been a bit too hectic over the last few months to do much in the way of blogging.

Anyway, I read a post from Tony at Digital Evangelism Issues that reminded me of some ideas that had been stirring for a while.

The post was about the interactive music video The Wilderness Downtown from Arcade Fire’s song We Used to Wait. They have integrated some personalised elements to the music video through Google Streetview  and Google Earth and a response box. I think it is a very creative way to encourage interaction from their audience. But don’t take my word for it, go and check it out for yourself (You need to use Google Chrome for the best experience.) Or watch this clip …

I can foresee that there will many more such media clips over the next few years. I think there are two key ideas that could see this sort of thing become the norm in how we view media.

The first is integrated media. Actually we already have integrated media to a degree. A music video is a media form where video an music is integrated. With devices like the iPad and Kindle becoming popular, we can expect to see that books and magazines become less of a print-only medium, but begin to integrate more of other media, especially audio and video. When you start to think about it, you can see the attraction of a vook, where you can click on a video or audio element in a book on your iPad, as opposed to the traditional magazine or book communicating to you only through text, or perhaps pictures as well in some cases.

As we look to communicate the gospel we need to think how we can communicate our gospel stories using integrated media – text, image, video, music, etc to create a message that truly engages our audience.

And there is one element that can do more to engage the audience than any other:


As a child of the 80s I remember well the Fighting Fantasy and Pick-Your-Path books where you got to make choices and turn to the page which represented your choice. And some of the first computer games were interactive fiction, and computer games have developed down this path over the last few decades to the immersive games of World of Warcraft and so on.

But with Web 2.0 being all about allowing people to interact with the content they see on the internet, interactivity is going to be more and more important in any communication we have, and especially as we communicate the gospel. The Wilderness Downtown allows the users to write a message to themselves as a child, and to post it on the website as a postcard. Imagine an integrated media experience, with video, image, text, music, and also being interactive. What would it look like? What would a gospel themed media experience like this look like?