In the last few weeks, we have seen a shift. YouTube channels started, Instagram pages created, and churches rapidly checking online safeguarding policies to make sure they’re ready for this necessary change. Honestly, I am thrilled that there seems to finally be an understanding of the need for digital evangelism.

I am a digital evangelist at Youth for Christ, and I can say as someone already working in this arena that it’s an incredibly exciting time. But having already given some of this a go for almost a year, I’m afraid to say that there isn’t a quick fix.

In that sense, digital evangelism is like dieting. You can shortcut the proper process and get some instant results but long term, it requires time and consistency to be more than a flash in the pan. I want to encourage you that when all this is over and the youth group can meet up again, please continue what you have started online.

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The digital space is where young people exist each and every day, and it’s where they understand their truth’. We, as youth workers and church leaders, have a huge opportunity to help young people hear the truth of Jesus in a very real and meaningful way at this time. But it takes consistency, longevity and — spoiler alert — your youth group page may not get Insta-famous overnight. That said, the eternal repercussions from this time can and will be life-changing. If that doesn’t excite you, then, honestly, maybe creating content just for the sake of it right now, isn’t for you.

Instead, I want us to take a look at some principles for what our youth really need and want from us in this season…

Digital evangelism is like dieting... long term, it requires time and consistency to be more than a flash in the pan.

Faithfulness not fame

In Acts 9, God uses a guy called Ananias to restore Paul’s sight. Ananias does this faithfully and then we don’t hear about him again. But we hear about Paul, he features a lot in the rest of the story. And the temptation, at a time like this, is that we want our Tik Tok accounts and Instagram pages to blow up like Paul. Alternatively, I want us to desperately pursue being the modern day Ananias. He knew his task. He did what God asked and he executed it faithfully.

What would it look like for us, as Christians, to use social media well at this time? Fundamentally, it has to be more about God’s kingdom than our own agenda. We need to work together because the harvest is plentiful. If a young person subscribers to your youth group YouTube channel, encourage them to subscribe to the church down the roads YouTube channel as well. Let’s flood their sub boxes with the truth of Jesus! Use this time to engage your audiences with the good news of Jesus, His word and this certain hope we have in Him.

Timeless truths

When making content, perhaps speak about the topics generally, so instead of just Covid-19 speak about anxiety and fear in general.

I like to call this Mum’s hair cut’! I love my mum to bits, but looking back at old family photos, we all laugh because her hair styles are so classic! She looked fabulous at the time, but sadly the looks haven’t aged so well. Regardless of hairstyle, however, my mum has been a solid foundation in my life since I was born. Consistent and caring, the true nature of who she is hasn’t change. So in the same way, when we produce videos for our young people it’s crucial that we speak into the culture right now, but we want to make sure that the truth will remain timeless.

When making content, perhaps speak about the topics generally, so instead of just Covid-19 speak about anxiety and fear in general. That way, in 10 years’ time when a young person goes into a rabbit hole of YouTube and finds your video, in God’s faithfulness, they can find the truth of His lasting word and not a fleeting fad like my Mum’s haircut.

Add some magic

Not literally magic tricks, although that would be incredible! Every time I make a video, I plan it out and think about how I can add some extra energy to it. Can I get another person onto the Instagram live and speak about the topic? Can I bring my family member into the video to help us with the banter levels and ensure that I am being natural on camera? Spend time thinking about how you add some magic to your videos to help young people engage and ensure that you don’t lose energy after a couple of posts.

Expand your audience

Within everything we create, we need to be thinking about how a non-churched person might react

90% of what I have seen over the last 2 weeks has been an amazing step up in online content from the church, but much of it seems to be aimed at those already in church. Within everything we create, we need to be thinking about how a non-churched person might react — because the aim is that it reaches them too, right? When you speak about the Bible, make sure you use basic language, explain the context, and help those who don’t have a faith to understand what you’re talking about. I would argue they actually need us now more than our churched young people do.

At Youth for Christ, we are not the pros at this, but we do love it and we’re working out how we do it well. Through Intro Outro we hope to introduce young people to Jesus and encourage them to live it out. If you are not in a position where you can create bags of content at this time, we are here to support and resource you, plugging away to produce the very best content that is good for young people.

Please be encouraged that what you guys are doing is incredible and a testament to your passion for Jesus and young people. What you have already done is superb! So keep going at this time, keep pursuing Jesus and pursuing faithfulness. Through His goodness, He will use the content we produce to reach a generation of young people for His glory.