Digital Disciples: Using digital communication to ‘make disciples’

We could all probably recite Jesus when he states to ‘go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

The Great Commission is the subject of many sermons and books however, could there be principles from this commission that we could apply to the new digital era in which we live?

Making disciples involves a long-term commitment to changing a culture. With all the many channels now available to us, we need to think start thinking differently about how our church connects with people online and via social media.

Most churches are using their online presence to draw people into faith, but are we using this to make disciples? Yes discipleship requires personal interaction however, could it be that we could use our digital communication to complement this culture and make ‘digital disciples’, using the many online tools available to us to extend the kingdom?

“Go and make disciples of all nations”

Let’s just take the verbs - we’re called to ‘Go’ and to ‘Make’. ‘Going’ used to just consist of traveling distance and writing letters. Now the internet gives us the ability reach out, without physically moving at all. You can financially support ministries on another side of the world with a few clicks of a button and you can raise awareness about various outreach activities using digital communication. Alpha, one of the largest Christian outreach, uses digital communication heavily to promote the course and provides a large bank of resources which are solely available online.

‘Making’ also suggests an active building of community and you can use your online presence in that building process. How are you sharing your church events? Does your digital presence help people feel at home in your church, does it help them find out how to be involved in what you’re doing together, which needs they can pray for and show where your heart and mission is for your area? Is there a way you can use your website to help provide resources to ‘make disciples’?*

It’s also interesting that Jesus says we should go to ‘all nations’. An international outlook fits pretty well with the internet at first glance but we need to remember it also means reaching people outside of the typical demographic of our church and that should seep into our online presence too.

“Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you”

Teaching is an essential part of the church community and significant time within Sundays are dedicated to this however, are we promoting teaching during the week?

How are we sharing the Word online or via social media? Statistics show that podcasts are the a steadily growing form of learning – with 10 to 20% increases in listening rates year on year* - and sermons are ideal podcast material. I love that faith comes by hearing and it would be great to get more of the Word out there, available for people to download.

“Surely I am with you always”

What a promise! It is so exciting to think that Jesus is with us... always! Are we portraying that truth and confidence that Jesus is with us always, across our social media platforms and within your church website?

So to conclude, the Great Commission sets the bar higher than just being focused on bringing people into faith, rather it re-centers your focus around building relationships across every aspect of our lives, online and offline. It would be great to see our generation fully using the digital tools available to us to ‘go and make disciples’.

Katherine Khoo is part of the team at Church Pages, an organisation that supports churches online through contribution-based hosting. As part of the communications Team, she spends a lot of time speaking to churches about how to improve their online presence and she is particularly passionate about ensuring youth are reached through online and offline communication. Twitter: @church_pages  Website: Church Pages

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