Ministry for the digital spaces

By July 21, 2016

USA (MNN) — A few years ago, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship realized that, even though its ministry is seeing tons of students come to faith, there’s a vast majority they’re not reaching.

Since then, InterVarsity has been asking the question, ‘where are all the students?’ The answer is simple — they’re in digital spaces. InterVarsity’s Bret Staudt Willet explains,

“We’re struggling to find them and connect with them. Where are they. Where do they spend their time, where do they relate to each other, where do they find community. Where are they looking for answers. And the thing that dawned on them was that, students are all online. And that InterVarsity has not really ever had an intentional effort to meet them there.”

(Photo Courtesy of Global Panorama via Flickr)

(Photo Courtesy of Global Panorama via Flickr)

That is until now. About a year ago, InterVarsity launched its ministry, “Ministry in Digital Spaces.” But now, as it goes into its second year, InterVarsity is inviting others to join them in reaching out to people with the Gospel in online communities.

It’s all in InterVarsity’s efforts to meet students right where they are, including if they’re playing inside a game.

In fact, many times inside these games, and other digital spaces, there are already formed communities. All it takes is either being a part of one, or becoming a part of one to get into a potention ministry situation. Why? Because so many games, if not all, are now also social platforms.

“Developers are making it easier and easier to connect with people you know offline already. They’re making it easier and easier to meet new people in meaningful ways, to eliminate some of the negative behaviors associated with gaming and being online,” Staudt Willet says.

And so it’s almost like, it’s kind of a golden age for ministry in those spaces because everybody who’s making these things, are making it easier and easier to get to know people, and to continue relationships across time.

One important way InterVarsity and its partners are doing this is through hashtags. Hashtags have quickly become a vital part of any online work whether it’s for twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

These hashtags are a way to connect with entire populations, cultures, and more regardless of where they are in the world. But, these hashtags also are meant to get peoples’ attention and help encourage them to get engaged.

Otherways include entering online spaces and scouting out potential ministry landscapes, artfully asking questions online, moving online conversations into spiritual conversations, and more. But the need for this ministry has been long awaited.

Staudt Willet says there have been Christian gamers who’ve told InterVarsity how this ministry is something they’ve been waiting years to have, to use. Some of these gamers have been playing with the same groups of people for years, but have not been sure of how to share their faith and engage in these hard and deep conversations.

(Photo Courtesy Fernando Jorge Agüero via Flickr)

(Photo Courtesy Fernando Jorge Agüero via Flickr)

Now, they can find out. These very same people can get involved with InterVarsity and learn how to better engage with their friends in order to share the grace of the Gospel and the message of the cross.

In fact, to help people with this, InterVarsity has an open Slack messaging room where people are welcome to join, ask questions, and learn as much as they can.

Slack is a collaboration tool meant to help multiple people talk in one online area at a time.  Individuals are also able to upload pictures and files while also having the option to direct message others if they so desire. But most importantly, it’s a place to connect and learn.  To join the Slack conversation, contact InterVarsity to learn more!

In the mean time, whether you’re trying to plug into “Ministry in Digital Spaces” or are just trying to figure out how to use the latest smartphone, please be praying for InterVarsity.

Pray for this ministry to continue to gain traction. Pray for all the people involved to be used by God and for there to be great team work. And, pray for any and all future conventions InterVarsity plans to hold in efforts to join together and solidify more it’s “Ministry in Digital Spaces” teams.

To donate to the “Ministry in Digital Spaces,” click here!

To learn more about the “Ministry in Digital Spaces,” click here!

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