We talk about using media to broadly sow the seeds of the Gospel in cultures that are resistant. Or to water seeds previously sown. Traditionally, the medium of shortwave radio in heart languages has been used to reach out and the response has generally been letters. But what can we expect from media?
For the most part, changing media habits have increased the way people could be exposed to the Gospel. For example, more people have access to the internet (746 million worldwide) and short, thought provoking videos can be used as opposed to paying for expensive airtime. (see my March 22, 2007 post). Re-purposing radio programs or creating new files for podcasting (streaming online or downloading to an ipod type audio player) is another option.
It is clear that we can expect different response methods and have to build that into the plan. Letters, emails, text messages on cell phones, but replying in kind, is essential.
But, how can we disciple individuals and families in a country that doesn’t have any visible church (or that church is not interested in reaching the lost of another ethnic group?) and/or where many interested listeners and believers are out of reach of mature believers?
In a recent newsletter, an organization targeting a very restricted people group addressed this very topic. “In recent years, letter response has been very low. Much of our follow-up now is through e-mail, online chat correspondence and telephone conversations. We respond to every single e-mail, positive or negative. Chatting over the internet… …enables us to speak to people in real time, to answer their questions and get responses back.”
“At times, we chat with new believers who are asking for encouragement or prayer. Other times, listeners want to debate Christianity or challenge what we teach. We respond to even those who oppose us, trusting that God will use His Word, and give them something to think about. Some chats are with young men, bored with their lives, but we trust that even one word we say will stay in their minds and the Holy Spirit will use that to draw them to Himself.” And when they are able, they try to contact listeners and website visitors by telephone calls.
What we have to do is think beyond what we think of as ways to make contact with lost in our areas. Consider doing follow-up for radio and TV programs in your country. These people may not be next door to you, but through the medium of cell phones, chat rooms and or emails you can build a relationship that may lead to salvation and discipleship.