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This is a guest post by Paul Watson who is a leader in evangelism and missions in online communities. You can read more of Paul's fantastic blog at http://reachingtheonlinegeneration.com .
I am the most disconnected with Christ when I am the most disconnected from lost people. The darker the place, the more my need to Christ slaps me in the face and I have to drop to my knees and seek His holy embrace and drink from His Word.
- I pray more because I need Jesus.
- I pray more because the stories that come out of darkness overwhelm me.
- I seek fellowship with other Christians because I need their encouragement and support.
- I want accountability because I need it to survive.
- I read Scripture because I have to have it to bring Light with me as I wander in dark places.
Because walking up to strangers in the mall and saying, "Hey, I'd like to be your friend." is a little awkward; I prefer to meet people online. At some level or another, people are online to connect. So talking with some random person is not weird, it's normal.
Here is a quick way to jump into the online world and strike up conversations with lost people that love them to Jesus:
- Get a Twitter account. (http://www.twitter.com) Take the time to set it up right with a picture and a non-religious bio. (People online have had run-ins with religious fanatics. They are hyper-sensitive to religiosity. You don't want to turn them off with your bio. Don't worry. You don't have to tell them you love Jesus. You will show them you love Jesus.)
- Download Twhirl. (http://www.twhirl.org) Follow the instructions and connect it with your Twitter account.
- Set up filters. In Twhirl you can set up filters so that when people use specific keywords. I have friends who have two kids. They adopted the youngest. They set up filters for 'parenting' and 'international adoption' because these were terms they felt they could talk about. They were also non-religious terms that non-Christians would use in conversation.
- As your filters pick up tweets, reply when you have something to add to the conversation. Twhirl makes this easy with the little @ button on people's profile picture. Press it to reply to that person's tweet and then type your message.
- As you get to know people, there will be opportunities to pray for them. Do it. Let them know you did it. I've never had anyone get mad at me for praying for them, especially when I've taken the time to get to know them. Say something like, "So sorry to hear that! Wish I could buy you coffee and we could visit. Prayed for you and your family just now. Keep me posted." In doing so, you identify yourself as a spiritual person who is willing to talk about spiritual things. As God works in their hearts, lost people who are spiritually seeking with be drawn to you.
- Read their blogs. Many people have links to their blogs in their Twitter profile. Read them. Comment if you have something to add. Don't flame them or pick an argument on their blog!
Remember: as you engage lost people and disciple them to fall in love with Jesus, you join God in His work. You are in the center of Jesus purpose and mission.
And, in running to the lost you will find a deeper passion for Christ than you've ever had before.