Faith

What does it take to represent Christ online?

Aaron Ng // July 14, 2020, 1:01 pm

Presenting christ online

The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the evangelical landscape, and the Church is being forced to differentiate between what is essential and non-essential.

What are the essentials for God’s Church, as revealed by Him? The Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20) reveals that a core component of God’s vision for His Church concerns its mission: evangelism.

Evangelism is the witnessing of church members to this world about the evangel, or Good News, of Jesus Christ. But while the Good News of Christ remains the same, the modes of witnessing are always reforming.

A core component of God’s vision for His Church concerns its mission: evangelism.

The circuit breaker measures brought the potential of the digital space into attention, and we are only beginning to appreciate the opportunities and challenges it brings.

There is opportunity in the digital space and the Church needs to be proactive in making the best use of this time (Ephesians 5:16). However, the accompanying challenges also call us to be very careful in how we navigate this space – not as unwise but as wise (Ephesians 5:15).

To that end, here are some considerations to keep in mind in presenting the gospel, followed by some practical illustrations for presenting Christ online.

RELEVANCE TO THE TIMES

First, the Good News must be relevant to the current times. An irrelevant gospel will not bring hope into despair, nor comfort into anxiety.

In order to demonstrate the relevance of the gospel of Christ, the Church needs to understand the times.

Bringing an unchanging message to a changing generation

Understanding this world begins with engaging, studying and hearing the voices of this world that we have been sent into.

Then, we shall be better equipped to speak the gospel truths into their contexts. It may be said that the gospel needs to be re-presented into the changing contexts of the current times.

FAITHFULNESS TO CHRIST

Second, the Good News must remain faithful to Scripture. The gospel of Christ centers on the life, death and resurrection of Christ.

It is impossible to present Christ to others with integrity if that presentation is not built on an opened Bible. Any presentation of Christ is really, then, listening to the gospel message found in Scripture.

No other news is as distinct from the voices of this world as the gospel of our Lord.

It is impossible to present Christ to others with integrity if that presentation is not built on an opened Bible.

These are the two marks of the Church we must bear in mind as we navigate the digital space: to remain distinct from the world, while staying relevant to the world.

Because in Christ we are no longer of the world (John 17:16), yet we are also sent into the world (John 17:18). Can this be done? We believe it can.

It may be difficult, but there will always be a path to Jesus. For all things – even these times – are created by Him and are being held together by Him.

WE REPRESENT CHRIST

In presenting Christ online (or anywhere else), there is a third thing to keep in mind: we are also representing Christ.

When Christ came into this world of sinners and sufferers, He came gentle and lowly in heart, and He bid us to learn from Him (Matthew 11:29). It is His character that every member of His Church ought to imitate in all of life.

Sharing Christ in a winsome way: The 3 Ps of evangelism

Indeed, one of the greatest obstacles to the gospel of Christ’s love is the lack of love amongst the ones presenting it.

Bearing in mind the Church’s twin marks of allegiance to God and relevance to the current times, as well as the bond between the character of the evangelists and the content of the evangel, here are some practical illustrations for the post-COVID-19 Church.

PRACTICAL ILLUSTRATIONS

Collaborate and consolidate.

On top of reaching more people outside the Church, there is also potentially more connectedness inside the Church.

Could it be that the accelerated pace of digitalisation has brought about new opportunities to model after the generosity of early churches in Acts? Local churches can collaborate and share resources.

Local churches can also make use of brilliant, existing evangelistic material online and adapt them to their own contexts – Alpha Course, ReFrame Course and Christianity Explored are some examples.

Faith content that is contextualised to the circumstances Singapore is facing can be shared across the Church network, with room for the individual churches to adapt the content and make it even more relevant to their own communities.

The same goes for online evangelistic events – why not ensure easy access to other members of God’s Church in Singapore?

Digital discipleship: 3 ways to take the gospel online

Official church bodies could take some time to validate the work of lay Christians who freelance in producing Christian content. The Treasure Box is one such example.

Churches who are blessed with resources in all things digital and online engagement have a brilliant opportunity here to demonstrate our Lord’s spirit of generosity.

FINAL WORD: EMBRACE AND RAISE UP FELLOW MILLENIALS

Millenials form the majority of the digital natives, and they are the budding navigators of this blossoming online mode of evangelism.

Bite-sized videos like Instagram Live and Instagram Stories have the potential to become like the gospel tracts of old. These personal stories and voices that witness to Christ’s love have the potential to connect with the rest of the world.

But they’ll need the wisdom of older ones to ground them in the scriptures and to be familiar with the Word personally. They’ll need the presence of Christlike ones for them to model after in the online space.

The wisdom of the old needs to come alongside the passion of the young, for the sake of the Lord’s name in the online space.

The older members of the Church need to continue to invest time and energy into the millennials.

Millennials are also relatively a-denominational. Opportunities lie in greater collaboration and creation between different denominations, challenges may lie in one’s reliance and preference for modern understanding over the Lord’s time-tested ways.

The wisdom of the old needs to come alongside the passion of the young, for the sake of the Lord’s name in the online space.

Aaron worships at Glory Presbyterian Church, sharing the love of Christ through the Children and Young Adults ministry. This article, written by Aaron with co-authoring inputs from Nicholas Quek and Ong Ching Hui, adapts reflections from “Does The Future Have A Church”, an online conversation on possible future scenarios and their implications for the Church that was attended by 36 people from over 25 different churches. Check out other participants’ reflections below:

Social justice: 3 steps to start a conversation

THINK + TALK

  1. What was the most ingenious way you’ve ever seen the gospel presented online?
  2. Which of Aaron’s suggestions most apply to your spiritual community? How can you make a positive change in that context?
  3. Read the Great Commission again. What is one thing you can do online this week to obey Christ and live it out?