Go online, voice your faith, reach thousands
NASHVILLE (BP) -- In a digital world, Baptist state conventions are providing a way to be personal through online testimony-driven evangelism tools that give people confidence to share the Gospel in everyday life.
Kentucky, Louisiana, Texas and Oklahoma are some of the states where Southern Baptists can upload their personal salvation stories and then share links to those stories on Facebook or on a card as they pass through a store check-out line.
"People carry technology with them, so what we've done in creating evangelism tools is given people an opportunity to carry the Gospel with them at all times, always being ready to share the Good News of Christ," Nathan Lorick, director of evangelism for the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, told Baptist Press.
Tell Your Story
In Kentucky, www.tellyourstory.today is averaging 750 unique visitors a day, encompassing people in at least 40 states and 12 countries.
The Kentucky Baptist Convention is asking people to write out their testimony and then call a toll-free number to record their three-minute story audibly. Within 24 hours, participants are texted a unique Web address they can share with others on social media or on business cards to point people to their stories.
Andy McDonald, an affinity evangelism strategist with the KBC, told Baptist Press the Tell Your Story tool has been popular in the state since it launched last fall, and around 400 people have recorded their testimonies for others to hear.
People don't have to live in Kentucky to upload their stories. McDonald emphasized the need for everyone -- even those who think they may not have interesting stories -- to share what Christ has done in their lives.
"Maybe you were raised in a home where you were in church before you were born and you had awesome parents who loved the Lord, so you didn't get beat up and scarred up in life," McDonald said. "Praise God for that. But you still have a story.
"God will waste no stories. He uses them all. Your story is going to connect with someone that mine won't, and vice versa. He uses every story for His glory and to bring people to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ," McDonald said.
When a visitor to tellyourstory.today indicates a salvation decision, both the KBC's evangelism team and the storyteller have an opportunity to reach out to the person and connect them to a local church.
What I Value Most
In Louisiana, more than 2,000 testimonies have been uploaded since the What I Value Most evangelism tool was launched a few years ago.
Keith Manuel, an evangelism associate with the Louisiana Baptist Convention, reported that testimonies have been read nearly 100,000 times by people in 156 countries on the website whativaluemost.com.
On the site, believers -- from any state, not just Louisiana -- are prompted to write in 200 words or less what their lives were like before Christ and in another 200 words or less what their lives are like after receiving Jesus.
"Our anticipation was that it would greatly impact Louisiana," Manuel said. "We had no idea it would impact the world."
When someone indicates a salvation decision, they are directed by the website to the North American Mission Board's Evangelism Response Center, where someone talks with them about following Jesus.
Free Gift for Life
The Southern Baptists of Texas Convention emphasizes Free Gift for Life, freegiftforlife.com, where people anywhere can upload testimonies and then share the Web address so others can read them.
Freegiftforlife.com also gives people an opportunity to upload videos of themselves talking about Christ, which is an additional outreach tool in a video-driven age.
As an example of the kind of traffic the site has seen since it launched in 2007, the first testimony listed has been viewed more than 5,500 times.
"God is really using technology to connect people's hearts to Christ through personal stories of how Christ has impacted their lives," Lorick said.
Lorick likened modern technology to a net cast out, "but what draws them in is people's stories and how God has connected with them where they are and changed their lives for the better."
"It's exciting to see as technology progresses how not only does it make life more convenient, but it actually is serving as a larger platform to share the Gospel than we've ever had before," Lorick said.
The Most Important Thing
The Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma developed an online, testimony-driven evangelism tool several years ago called The Most Important Thing, mostimportantthing.org.
The tool also is used by the North American Mission Board, and the site is hosted there.
More than 2,300 salvation stories are on the site and, like the others, people can upload their testimonies and then point others to them. Also like the others, if a seeker happens upon the site, that person can start clicking on testimonies and also find a clear Gospel presentation.
"Our story has power," Mike Napier, a personal evangelism specialist with the BGCO, told Baptist Press. "The Holy Spirit takes our story and uses it to draw people to God. It is an amazing process to be a part of and so exciting."
Witnessing tools change with technology, Napier noted, "but the Gospel is the same. The saving power of Jesus is the same."