by Sarah Bowler, guest blogger
(Editor’s note: This is the 5th post in an 8-part series called “What’s Your Evangelism Style?“)
The Internet provides opportunities to connect with people all around the word. But in this large sea of voices, many wonder if a single voice of truth makes any difference. Can one voice be heard over the loud ring of everyone else’s opinions?
A friend once asked a similar question about online discussions changing a person’s viewpoint. Several people responded and the general consensus seemed to be a strong “No.” Ironically, however, the whole conversation took place on Facebook. As people talked back and forth, they all played a part in influencing one another’s opinions through a long string of online comments.
Yes, there is a danger in online communication of alienating people through disagreements and debates. We’ve all seen our share of shameful fights in comment sections we wish we’d never read, but the negative actions of others don’t negate our positive influence.
If believers followed only one simple proverb, it would revolutionize our online presence: “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1).
A graduate from my alma mater wrote an article on racism that garnered many responses, some of which were not so nice. One man responded with a lengthy diatribe, part of which claimed the author sounded like an angry African American who hated all whites.
It would have been all too easy for her to respond with a mean spirit, but she chose grace. She chose to share that she had married a white man and their biracial union had produced two beautiful boys. Her gracious response caused the commenter to reevaluate his opinions, and he actually came back and apologized. The conversation could have gone very differently if not for her “gentle answer.”
The same holds true for Internet evangelism. There are people searching for answers online who may hesitate to venture through the doors of a church. Will our answers make a difference? Or will our answers strengthen their resolve to avoid believers altogether?
Harsh words only undermine our message. Some may find the gospel offensive, but a gracious spirit goes a long way toward diffusing the bomb of verbal battles. What you say online, and the spirit behind it, makes a difference, even in the sea of online voices.
– Sarah Bowler is Communications Manager at EvanTell.