The Christian Enquiry Agency has revamped its website, www.christianity.org.uk, aimed at people looking for answers to questions about Christianity. Every month, thousands of people look to the website for answers to questions ranging from ‘What do Christians believe about homosexuality?’ to ‘Can I have my baby Christened?’
British adults are more likely to be internet-literate than knowledgeable about the Bible, says the Christian Enquiry Agency, so churches must engage online as this is the place where seekers are found. The agency says that people can come to faith while sitting at their computer screens but not by stumbling upon Bible verses quoted out of context.
‘I am staggered at what people tell me about their spiritual thoughts behind the privacy of a computer screen. The longing for faith and meaning hasn’t gone away. People who would never walk into a church on a Sunday morning to find answers will readily look for them in a search engine at midnight on a Friday’, says Peter Graystone, co-ordinator of the Christian Enquiry Agency. ‘We always give people what they ask for, and nothing more than that. But if their question is, “Does praying ever work?” it begins a conversation that might continue by email for months. And when we share our experience, Jesus makes himself known. In the goodness of God, people are coming to real faith online in a way I would not have thought possible some years ago’, comments Peter.
Also Speaking at the launch of the revamped website, Gavin Calver, director of mission at the Evangelical Alliance, said there is a clear need for Christians to engage with the cultural contexts in which they live in order to draw people towards God. ‘We need to re-imagine our style,’ he said. ‘The substance doesn’t change, but the method has to. We need to change the method in order that people can hear us. We need to tell Jesus stories in a world that wants to hear them.’
Dr Bex Lewis, research fellow in social media and online learning at CODEC, St John’s College Durham, warned of the potential dangers of Christians bombarding their social media contacts with Bible verses without any context, but encouraged people to form real, in-depth relationships. ‘Social media is about relationships,’ she said. ‘How do we encourage people to make those online relationships real? A lot of social media is about getting to know people and finding a starting point for conversation. A huge amount of it is listening. It’s not just about pushing content out.’
The Christian Enquiry Agency is looking for help to publicise the website: ‘Just write christianity.org.uk on the bottom of posters, emails or anything that is read by people beyond the walls of a church. It’s so easy, and it’s free. We’ll do all the rest’, says Peter Graystone.
To find out more about how churches can support this ministry, visit www.christianity.org.uk/cea.