What Is Digital or Online Evangelism?

Woman looking at computer

Subscribe To Our Weekly Newsletter

Sign up for our weekly newsletter, JFP News, to receive encouraging stories, videos and resources in your inbox.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Jesus set clear expectations for His followers before He ascended into heaven:

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. 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, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:16-20, New International Version).

The Great Commission is still in effect and should continue to energize and motivate the church. We’re called to go into the world and share Jesus’ story, giving people the opportunity to have their lives (and eternal destinies) changed. 

When Jesus gave this command to His disciples, the only way to reach people was to physically go into new areas and find the places they congregated. This is why we see them preaching in synagogues and public squares. 

Today, there is still a significant need to physically go and share the gospel with unreached people. Sometimes, this is because they don’t have access to media and messaging about Jesus, and sometimes, it’s because the regimes in these areas go out of their way to suppress anything gospel related. 

What is digital or online evangelism? 

However, the internet has made the world feel smaller in many ways. It’s much easier to reach people all over the world. Digital or online evangelism is entering virtual public spaces and sharing Jesus’ message. The term online evangelism might refer to the work of an actual missions-oriented organization, but it might also describe the efforts of an individual using online platforms to share the gospel.  

Why would online evangelism be necessary?

According to recent Statista data, 67 percent of the world’s population is online. By 2029, the number of people online is predicted to increase by a whopping 47 percent, from 5.3 billion to 7.9 billion. According to the Global Web Index, the average time spent online daily is 6.5 hours, with users between the ages of 16 and 24 spending another 2.5 hours.

The disciples couldn’t have even fathomed having this kind of access to people from all over the world. And you might think, “Well, those kinds of numbers don’t necessarily equal influence and access. One has to cut through a lot of noise online.” That’s true; ministering online requires some finesse and thoughtful strategy. But remember, the first-century marketplace was a noisy, unregulated collection of people loudly sharing their own messages and philosophies. 

When it comes to digital evangelism, the questions are very similar to the ones posed in real-world evangelism scenarios:

  1. Where should I go to have the most significant impact?
  2. How can I communicate so my message is received?
  3. How can I best represent the gospel in my words and actions?  

Where people spend their time online   

Much of the uptick in online activity is due to the growth of remote work. The work done remotely went from 4.7 percent in 2019 to 61 percent in 2020. However, online work tools aren’t the only place where people spend time online.    

For better or worse, social media platforms have transformed how we communicate and share information. More than half of the world’s population (62.3 percent) use social media. The top five social media platforms worldwide are broken down by monthly users this way:

  1. Facebook (3 billion)
  2. YouTube (2.5 billion)
  3. WhatsApp (2 billion)
  4. Instagram (2 billion)
  5. TikTok (1.5 billion)

Social media accounts for the most time spent online (22 percent). The rest of the time spent online basically falls into these categories:

  • Searches (21 percent)
  • Reading content (20 percent)
  • Emails and communication (19 percent)
  • Multimedia websites (13 percent)
  • Shopping (5 percent)

Connecting with people where they congregate 

Obviously, social media platforms are critical for connecting with others and sharing God’s message. All of the platforms we use can and should reflect our lives and values. This means that sharing our faith online can be as casual or focused as we choose. 

Passive social media evangelism

Sharing the gospel can be intimidating. But it’s good to remember that it can be as simple as talking about your life in a way that communicates your faith. On social media, this could include sharing videos, sermons and messages that communicate the beauty of the Christian faith—and then interacting with people who talk to you about it. 

Active social media evangelism

For those who feel called to be more proactive in their social media evangelism, you might approach this in several ways (depending upon the platform), including activities like:

  • Creating accounts and Facebook pages solely dedicated to talking about faith 
  • Interacting with people about faith on other pages or forums
  • Sharing and creating uniquely evangelism-focused content

Faith-based content 

Each platform is suited for particular kinds of content, whether it be reels, videos or blogs. You can create faith-based content that communicates the gospel message, shares your testimony, offers reasons for believing, teaches Bible stories or lessons, etc. 

Over time, you can build an audience by providing consistent, meaningful and quality content. Building that audience will also require a solid social media presence and marketing skills. 

Search-optimized content 

As we mentioned earlier, 21 percent of people online are searching for something, and 20 percent are reading some kind of content. There’s a lot of overlap as their searches led them to the content they read. 

Search engine optimization (SEO) is about creating content that shows up when someone Googles something like “Who was Jesus?” Google keeps track of the most authoritative and informative content and delivers it to people searching for various topics. 

SEO isn’t easy. It takes a lot of research, competitive analysis and refinement—not to mention the work required to write competitive articles and webpages. With SEO, you’re really playing the long game, but once you get the hang of it, Google will begin sending readers to your blogs, videos and other content. This can be content that answers questions for seekers, provides answers for others looking to share their faith, or both. 

Online studies and small groups

Through online video conferencing options like Zoom or Google Chat, you can create opportunities for people to gather without leaving their homes. Many people who might be intimidated by the idea of going to church can find this a meaningful opportunity to gather and hear Christians share their passion and stories. 

The nice thing about this option is that it doesn’t have to be a Christianity-focused gathering. It could be a book club or a lifestyle-oriented group for young parents or gamers. Groups like this can be an outlet for more introverted personalities or others who don’t have a lot of opportunities to meet people in their local community. And they can help you build relationships, establish trust, and share your perspective and faith. 

Communicating online so people will hear you   

When it comes to sharing faith, the apostle Peter offers superb advice:

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil” (1 Peter 3:15-17, NIV).

Here are some points that we can apply to our communication of the gospel, whether online or face-to-face. 

1. Revere Christ as Lord

All communication about Jesus starts at the same place. It begins with reverence. And we’re not just talking about starting at a place of respecting Jesus; it’s more than that. We begin by truly respecting Jesus as Lord. He is our example and authority, which must be reflected in our gentle and patient communication. 

2. Always be prepared

There are times when we want to be strategic and intentional about creating opportunities to share the gospel fruitfully as widely as possible. But we must always be prepared to jump on opportunities as they arise.

You might be thinking about ways to share Jesus with a larger audience, but some of the most fruitful opportunities drop into your lap unannounced. It might be the person sharing a sad update about a loved one’s diagnosis or someone publicly asking questions about faith. 

3. A reason for the hope you have 

Peter is very clear about how you should prepare. You don’t need to have an answer to every question. You simply need to be able to explain why you have put your hope in Jesus. What made you decide to trust in and follow Him? People can’t debate you about your personal experience. 

4. Do this with gentleness and respect 

Anonymity is a huge issue online, and it leads people to communicate in ways that just aren’t particularly respectful—even in Christian spaces. But it’s essential to remember that if Jesus truly has authority over our lives and if we really want our words to have an impact, we’ll be careful about how we communicate. 

If people don’t experience gentleness and respect from us, it is difficult for them to believe that we genuinely have their best interests at heart. We aren’t just deliverers of a message but representatives of Jesus’ love for people. If they don’t sense genuine care from us, it’s hard for our words to find their mark. 

5. Keeping a clear conscience

As online ambassadors for the gospel, it’s critically important that we consistently hold ourselves to high standards of conduct and communication. Again, the idea that our behavior is anonymous online can lead many to believe they can communicate one way as a minister of the gospel and act another way elsewhere. 

A good example of this might be the way Facebook’s algorithm works. You might have people you’ve been talking to about Jesus in your friends list. You’re always careful about how you communicate with them. But then you find yourself arguing with people in the comments on political Facebook pages. Facebook’s algorithm puts those arguments into your friends’ feeds, exposing them to your arguments with others. And even if you’re kind to them, they can see if you’re impatient and dismissive of others. 

This is why we want to keep a clear conscience. We want to consistently demonstrate Jesus’ character in all our interactions so we never have to worry about reconciling how we are in different contexts and situations. As Peter communicates, when we keep a clear conscience, we never have to worry about those who would slander or challenge us. 

Tools for sharing the gospel 

Jesus Film Project® has a number of resources available to help you share the life-changing story of Jesus with the world around you.

Our films can help spark spiritual conversations with people online. On our YouTube channel or our “Watch” page, you’ll find feature-length movies, short films and inspiring series—many in multiple languages (the JESUS film itself is available in more than 2,100 languages). These films are easy to share and absolutely free. Share a video and ask one of the included discussion questions from our website to start spiritual conversations today.

Plus, the free Jesus Film Project App makes accessing and sharing these films easy. Download our free app on the App Store or Google Play, and you’ll have a library of films in the palm of your hand. Share our app with others who might find this helpful resource, too! 

If you’re looking for more of a curriculum for an online group, We Are All Missionaries is a free four-week guide intended to increase people’s enthusiasm for sharing their faith. 
Becoming Like Jesus While Being Yourself is another valuable tool for helping you understand how your personality impacts how you (and others) approach faith. This free resource enables you to get to know yourself better and improve your ability to communicate with the people in your life.