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WEB EVANGELISM BULLETIN

. . . learning from each other
W-E-B Issue 163 ~ September 08
Monthly ISSN 471-0323

News this time...

IS NO ONE STARTING WITH STARTING POINTS?
THE BOY IN STRIPED PYJAMAS
UNDERSTANDING EVANGELICAL MEDIA
THE WORLD WE LIVE IN
APOLOGETICS IN EVANGELISM
FACEBOOK AND SOCIAL NETWORKING
VIDEO ON CHURCH WEBSITES
THE WORLD FINANCIAL SITUATION
CHILDREN'S SITES
IF ONLY
OOPS
TIPS
LINKS TO INTERNET EVANGELISM DAY SITE
TAILEND

"Your beliefs will be the light by which you see, but they will not be what you see, and they will not be a substitute for seeing" - Flannery O'Connor

"If there were no God, there would be no Atheists" - G K Chesterton


IS NO ONE STARTING WITH STARTING POINTS?

There is huge potential for taking books and films as a 'bridge strategy' starting point books and films. Yet so few Christians seem to use this approach online. For instance, UK's BBC TV has just screened a 4-part series of Tess of the D'urbevilles. This story raises vital themes, especially concerning fate and how chance actions lead to tragic consequences, presented from Hardy's gloomy non-Christian viewpoint. (He was brought up in an evangelical background, but lost his faith as an adult - see his Wikipedia biography.) It is generally regarded as his greatest book.

I tried googling to see if any Christian had taken the opportunity to write about Tess, (or even Hardy in general). I found a number of good secular discussion guides, which will be used by the millions of high-school English literature students studying a Hardy set book. There were also various blog postings. But as far as I could see, none were by Christians, with the exception of one brief posting about Hardy on http://god-freemorals.blogspot.com/

Yet there is great potential for countering Hardy's worldview with a Christian one, and written specifically for non-Christians.


THE BOY IN STRIPED PYJAMAS

This very moving holocaust film is based on the book of the same name. Films like this are a ready-made starting point for discussion, and also for extracting embedded spiritual parallels. Yet so few seem to take advantage of these God-given opportunities. Damaris offers an article, video, and study guide using the discussion approach. They are one of the very few groups taking books and films as a starting point:
http://www.damaris.org/content/content.php?type=5&id=729

UNDERSTANDING EVANGELICAL MEDIA

The Changing Face of Christian Communication
Editors: Quentin Schultze, Robert Woods
IVP Academic
ISBN 978-0-8308-2882-1

This is a valuable introduction to a whole range of communication media: radio, tv, movies, print and web, music, theater, gaming, advertising and ethics. Contributors are all experts in their fields, mainly college lecturers (though not one from outside USA, not even Canada!). You may know Dr Q's writing about the Web, including his 1996 'Internet for Christians' which gave many their introduction to what was then a new medium.

The book offers valuable analysis, explains how Christian have used different media in the past and present, clarifies the different issues and conflicts that have resulted, and poses many questions for us to think through. Few of us may get the chance to take a college course on Christian communication, so here is an alternative!


THE WORLD WE LIVE IN

How others see us: secular blog ReadWriteWeb gives a sympathetic analysis of two religious web teams (one Jewish, one Christian):
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/religion_and_web_technology_lifechurch.php
http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/religion_and_web_technology_hartman_institute.php

IS GOOGLE MAKING US STUPID? Nicholas Carr highlights the way, he believes, that the way the Web disseminates information is changing the way we think:
http://www.marshillaudio.org/resources/article.asp?id=172

SURVEY FOR MISSIONS: if you belong to a mission agency, please complete a brief online survey on the subject 'The Digital Divide and The Security Divide Within The Global Missions Community':
http://www.globalchristians.org/limesurvey/index.php?sid=17439&lang=en

THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN - if you need Halloween materials, check:
http://atstracts.org/
http://www.cpo.org.uk/


APOLOGETICS IN EVANGELISM

A apologetics/discussion approach to evangelism can be very effective for certain types of people. Anthony Horvath, Executive Director of Athanatos Christian Ministries has been defending the Christian faith over the Internet ever since he himself first wrestled with unbelief, fifteen years ago, and has been running www.Sntjohnny.com for five years. Horvath says, "One of the hallmarks of my discussion forum is its leniency. We let people get away with things that would get them kicked off many other forums, which in fact many of our members have experienced. Sometimes having strict 'moral' rules for a forum is just an excuse to be thin skinned. Atheists and non-Christians have hard questions and if you make them phrase things in the manner you demand they will probably just walk away. Evangelism is hard enough without requiring people to meet you on your terms."
http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/509817960.html

Athanatos also run study courses:
http://www.christiannewswire.com/news/912758136.html

For more on apologetics as an outreach see:
http://www.InternetEvangelismDay.com/apologetics.php


FACEBOOK AND SOCIAL NETWORKING

Why do people use Facebook? Here's a page on the IamNext site, for non-Christians, (which TruthMedia has now integrated into TheLife.com in an ongoing program of linking together their separate outreach sites):
http://thelife.com/culture/facebooklove/

PHISHING - Be aware that there are ways of compromising your Facebook account, writes Cynthia Ware:
http://thedigitalsanctuary.org/facebook-phishing-scams-hook-pastors/

THE POWER OF SOCIAL NETWORKING IN ELECTIONS: In the US elections, it seems that Obama has been making good use of the web. This analysis of social networking to link volunteers to specific local tasks could be equally useful in evangelism and followup:
http://www.technologyreview.com/printer_friendly_article.aspx?id=21222&channel=infotech

A further illustration of the grass-roots nature of the web is that a private blogger claims to have started the ball rolling to get Sarah Palin adopted as VP candidate.

Four years ago, social networking and video-sharing sites barely existed. This time round, they are playing a huge role in an election which impacts us all, whichever country we live in.


VIDEO ON CHURCH WEBSITES

A short introductory video on your church site is a great way to introduce outsiders to your fellowship. Coton Green Church in Tamworth UK has produced, in-house, an excellent gentle video introduction to the fellowship. They have also made 3000 DVD copies and are distributing them to houses in the community, and then collecting them in later, asking for comments. This releases copies for redistribution to other people. The strategy has been very fruitful, with a number of people visiting the church as a result.

The DVD is therefore not evangelistic in the sense that it offers a gospel presentation. It IS evangelistic in the far more strategic sense that it draws people into taking their first step towards a worshiping family community, where they can build relationships and see faith modelled. Is this something your church might consider? If you already offer an introductory video, please send details.
http://www.cotongreenchurch.com/

They write, "The whole project was designed to inform the people living within a mile of our Church, just what a modern, living church has to offer the community. We believe that we need to overcome what has become a negative view of Church life. The DVD was designed to profile each ministry and convey that we are a loving family, which is seeking others who want to find out more about a relationship with the living God.

The DVD was designed, written and filmed by people within the fellowship over a period of three months. It has been distributed to 5000 homes, within a mile radius of the Church building. We put the DVD through each door, then collect them at the end of the week and invite people to come and see for themselves. We have had a good response so far. It is a fantastic tool to use, allowing us to get out into our community and show them what church is really about. It has also been an amazing catalyst, bring a new sense of unity and common purpose to our own people. We have had over 100 people out on the streets, delivering and collecting the DVDs. We believe that the Lord has used this project to break the barriers that we sometimes erect, stopping us from leaving the confines of the church and going out into our community."

[Please post this article, and blog about it, anywhere]


THE WORLD FINANCIAL SITUATION

It seems that fallen human nature spoils anything it touches. Now we are seeing it in the bank sector. It's been called the world's biggest poker game. Bank morality looks rather like this to me. A guy decides that not being content with borrowing and lending money, and making a reasonable margin on the work, he decides to gamble this week's housekeeping money. He comes out ahead, and gambles next week's housekeeping in advance. Then he starts doing leveraged betting where he can gain fantastically, or lose far more than the original stake. Then he gets a secured loann against the value of his house, so as to release more gambling capital. Then he takes out a dozen more secured loans on the value of the same house, in order to release more. Then his house drops a bit in value. And the wheels come off the cart. In a private individual, it would be called reckless addiction.

And the sub-prime lenders have been in blatant violation of the Bible's strong condemnation of using false scales - i.e. totally misrepresenting the product.

The world seems likely to suffer from financial problems for several years to come. How might this affect, in particular, web ministry?

1. Churches, and individual Christians, may be less likely to donate to web ministries, for a range of reasons including the fact that the results of a 'virtual' ministry are much less easy to evaluate or visualize. Ministries which use salaried staff may be more affected that those which are largely volunteer-led, or are essentially one person's leisure-time work. Plan ahead, think through options.

2. More than before, web users will be seeking help on coping with money, debt, unemployment, stress and worry. This is an opportunity that web ministry - and local churches - must surely take, in order to help hurting people.

ATS Tracts have just released a tract based on the financial crisis:
http://shop3.gospelcom.net/epages/atsdirect.storefront/EN/Product/32170

Web evangelist Rusty Wright has released these articles for syndication:

i. Optimism Takes a Beating in Touch Times:
http://amyfound.org/writing_resources/amy_internet_syndicate/articles/rusty_wright/rw70.html

ii. Home Foreclosure's Emotional Toll:
http://amyfound.org/writing_resources/amy_internet_syndicate/articles/rusty_wright/rw69.html

Regarding the Home Foreclosure article, Rusty comments:
"This was also published in the San Bernardino Sun (both hardcopy text and online text plus podcast) and East Texas Review newspapers; on the secular websites APApractice.org (American Psychological Association) and redOrbit.com; plus Christian websites CBN.com, DelveIntoJesus.com, The Chronicle, Success With Kids, The Seed Sower, Teach Me Thy Way; linked to from the secular websites American Idol, Wikio, Therapy Anywhere, Topix.

The American Psychological Association version (they got it from the San Bernardino Sun via an information distributor) also ended up on about 200 APA psychologists' affiliate websites. God is at work getting the Gospel into places where nonbelievers are!"

Some of his earlier articles, still available for syndication, are particularly relevant at this time:

Food crisis: http://amyfound.org/writing_resources/amy_internet_syndicate/articles/rusty_wright/rw68.html
Anxiety: http://www.amyfound.org/articles/rw22.html
Insecurity: http://www.amyfound.org/articles/rw23.html
Stress: http://www.amyfound.org/articles/rw25.html
Fear: http://www.amyfound.org/articles/rw28.html
Worry: http://www.amyfound.org/articles/rw32.html

3. Churches can support struggling people in the community. There is a Christian debt counseling ministry in UK, which operates from within local churches, and sees 80% of these who go through its program joining the church.

There could be many opportunities for members of a church to volunteer and train for community programs, either church-based or secular.

4. Some hosting companies may collapse. Make sure that you have your entire website backed up on your own computer and elsewhere. Also check that you truly own your domain name and have administrative rights to change settings for it, without reference to anyone else.


CHILDREN'S SITES

Have a look at this new children's site just launched in UK, and see if you can work out what denomination is running it. What is particularly worth emulating is the min-profiles of real people each month:
http://www.yfaith.co.uk/

Make your own comic strip:
http://www.makebeliefscomix.com/


IF ONLY

- a Christian group was running a bridge site like this:
http://caringbridge.org/


OOPS

Sorry, some corrections. Last time, I took a news story about a most-visited children's site, but the introduction to the story bore little relationship to the actual site. And in the July issue, I referred to an article on Muslim conversions to Christianity. In fact, this was deliberate misinformation on the part of the speaker, as pointed out by the Barnabas Fund:
http://www.barnabasfund.org/news/archives/text.php?ID_news_items=410


TIPS

- non-techies look away now

DOT.WHAT? File extension resource listing for Windows, Mac and Linux file names:
http://dotwhat.net/

RSS - Creating a Dynamic RSS Feed with Ajax:
www.webreference.com/programming/javascript/rss_feeds_ajax/

CSS - advantages of free templates:
http://pravalika-designs.blogireland.ie/post/351/1385

CSS - lots of tutorial links and examples. One to bookmark:
http://www.cbel.com/style_sheets/

CREATING STYLESHEETS - Jina Bolton reveals where she finds inspiration for beautiful design, why she is fascinated by sushi and robots, and what makes a good style sheet:
http://www.sitepoint.com/article/1671

CSS Cache Buster ensures that your Wordpress blog delivers the very latest version of your CSS stylesheet to your visitors, no matter how often or how rarely you edit your CSS:
http://archive.devwebpro.com/2008a/0912.html

SCREEN CALIPERS - an old favorite for Windowns and Mac, essential for any web designer:
http://www.iconico.com/caliper/

BROWSER CHECKING: with the release of IE8 and Google's new Chrome browser, we do need to check websites for appearance and usability in IE6, IE7 and IE8, plus Firefox, and ideally also Chrome, Opera and Safari (get Windows Safari as a reasonable indicator of how Safari Mac will work). For a review of Chrome, see:
http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/10things/?p=422

10 FREE Google Marketing Tools:
http://www.sitepronews.com/archives/2008/oct/1prt.html

REDESIGN FOR WIDER SCREENS - "Internet users don't like to scroll any more today than when we started testing them 10 years ago. A user typically arrives on a homepage and - far more often then you might suspect - just doesn't bother to scroll down. The good news is that designers now have more room in which to put critical design elements 'above the fold.'"
http://www.wilsonweb.com/design/follansbee-screen-resolution.htm

VIDEO Magazine - free by email:
http://www.christianvideomag.com/

FREE PRINT magazine for professional US webmasters:
http://free-ebooks.tradepub.com/free/webs/

ADEONA - open source Internet-based tracking system for lost or stolen laptops.
http://adeona.cs.washington.edu/

MOBILE PHONES: pick up your voicemail online:
http://www.messagesling.com/

SITEMAPS are still worth it, says Jakob Neilsen:
http://www.useit.com/alertbox/sitemaps.html

ICON SEARCH - Heal Your Church Website says where to find them:
http://www.web-evangelism.com/offsitelink?b08sept-healyourchurchsite

FORMS: how web forms should work, including how errors are handled when something goes awry. And please, DON'T put a 'clear form' button on any form. Ever. Why would I want it? I can so easily hit the wrong button in error and waste all the time I spent filling it. Just delete the line type="reset" that creates such a button. Now.
http://www.devwebpro.com/2008/09/19/how-web-forms-should-be-developed/

TOGGLING VISIBLE/INVISIBLE: there are several Javascript solutions to this useful option:
http://www.dustindiaz.com/seven-togglers/


LINKS TO INTERNET EVANGELISM DAY SITE

If you have links to any page within the Internet Evangelism Day site, please could you change the link from http://www.internetevangelismday.com/anypage.php to
http://www.InternetEvangelismDay.com/anypage.php


TAILEND ô¿ô

Eagle Line train proposal: a humor video clip demonstrating that effective communication means that the hearer must understand the message:
http://www.boreme.com/boreme/funny-2006/london-edinburgh-p1.php

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