Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Advancing the Gospel Through Social Media: E-vangelism

Nathan JonesMP3 PDFBy

What are some of the online evangelism tools Lamb & Lion used to reach people for Christ?

On the April 16th edition of the radio program Prophecy Update, I was interviewed by Bill Salus, author of the popular Psalm 83-themed book Isralestine and evangelist on the end times website Prophecy Depot. Bill and I spent much of the interview discussing how social media has made a huge shift in how we do online evangelism. We also touched on prophecies that mention the increase of knowledge in the last days and that connection with today's electronics savvy generation.


Bill Salus


E-Offerings

Bill Salus: Welcome to another addition of the Prophecy Update radio program whereby we intend to authenticate the sovereignty of God through Bible prophecy by telling you what Bible prophecy has to say about these last days. I am you host Bill Salus and I am delighted to have with us on the program today Nathan Jones of Lamb & Lion Ministries.

One of the interesting things that you do over there, Nathan, is that you answer questions all day long about different types of Christian and prophetic topics. Is that correct? How can people reach you if they have questions?

Nathan Jones: Sure do! Besides being Web Minister, I'm also the Associate Evangelist on staff, of course Dr. Reagan being the Senior Evangelist. I handle all the questions that come in by email. We also have many people posting on our blog at lamblion.us, our Facebook page at lamblion.com/facebook, or they can just go to our website at lamblion.com, click Contact and send a question related to Bible prophecy and I'll make sure it gets answered.

Bill Salus: Very good, Nathan, outstanding! You also send out e-mail newsletters don't you for Lamb & Lion Ministries to people who subscribe to your ministry, correct?

Nathan Jones: Certainly, yes, just go to our website at lamblion.com and on every page there is a button that says, "E-Newsletter." Every other week on Wednesdays we send out an e-newsletter that is full of prophetic information and resources and updates.

Bill Salus: I like it because it keeps me in contact with what you're currently teaching and what you are offering as a ministry resource. You've got the TV program "Christ in Prophecy" available that David Reagan hosts and you co-host. The e-newsletters are very reader-friendly, which is what I like. You guys have done a skillful job with the articles so that they're not an exhaustive study where you've got to set aside a half hour to read your e-newsletter.

Nathan Jones: Yeah, nobody would read an e-newsletter that long.

Bill Salus: Yes, it's clean and concise.


Insights E-Videos

Bill Salus: I was fascinated by your most recent little video snippet called Bible Prophecy Insights (below). They are really fascinating to me. They are only like one minute long and they cover some very important topics in just one minute. I don't know how you make them.

What gave you the idea to produce the Insights videos? And, tell me a little bit more about the goal of these along with some of the topics you are covering. I know there are three of them at the time of this interview that exist right now?

Nathan Jones: Certainly, Bill. It all began when I was reading Pew Research and they reported that 50% of Generation X who would be people like me who are 30-45 years old live online. We are online all the time. We live on YouTube, Facebook, and all the various social networks.

As great a number as that is, an even larger 75% of the Millennial Generation ages 18-29 spend most of their day on the social networks and watching online videos, and yet 25% tragically of that generation claims to be without any religion whatsoever. It makes the Millennial Generation the least religious generation in American history.

Here we see that there's a spiritual need because there's an emptiness when Christ isn't in one's life and there's also a highly in-demand technological medium which is the Internet. So, if you put those together, how do we best utilize this trend to reach the Millennial Generation? How do we reach my generation which is Generation X? You could ask them to go to any of the Bible prophecy conferences and conventions ministries host, but they attract mostly folks who are of the older generation. So, for the new generation, we have to ask, "How do we reach a new generation with the great news and the saving message of Jesus Christ, and that He is coming soon?"

The obvious answer came that we can reach them by creating highly impacting videos that go out over social networks, allowing people to share while giving them a little insight into Bible prophecy. That's why the videos are called Bible Prophecy Insights. And, so, that's what we did.

We began the series starting with three so far (below). They're high-tech, animated, and computer graphics-driven, but they also have a poignant Bible teaching message. I kind of think of them as fancy fishing lures. Fishermen have their real pretty, fancy, shiny fishing lures they send out into the water to attract the fish. Likewise, we as Christians are fishers of men, so we send our fishing lures out — like these Bible Prophecy Insights videos — and they are attractive to people, capture their interest, and we then bring them back to our website where they can learn more about Bible prophecy and hopefully more about Jesus Christ and get saved if they're not. That's the purpose of why we're making them.

Bill Salus: Talk about high-tech! I remember watching the first three that already exist and in one of them you are teaching about the Rapture. You walk through some dimensional gate and the next thing I know you are walking around in a heavenly environment. I was thinking humorously, "Oh, my goodness, he has been raptured and I haven't! What happened?"

Your ability to use these technologies is incredible! Of course, that's what this latest Millennial Generation is used to seeing.

Nathan Jones: Exactly! If it's not really good quality video, most people will skip over it instantly. Unfortunately, while the Christian video producing community is getting better, we are sadly known for creating poor quality videos and media. That's just a shame. But, we are witnessing Christian production groups like City on a Hill and the folks who are making these edifying movies like Courageous all working really hard to make good high-quality videos that get people's attention and reach people for Christ.

When we started this venture we decided that the Insights videos had to be made in high quality, they had to look real good, and they had to be bite-sized because the younger generation (and myself included sometimes) don't give the time to sit down and read full scale articles like we used to. They read and absorb information very quickly. So, the videos had to be very quick, so we decided to make them just one minute long.

What really made these videos work is the Lord brought across our path a former Disney computer animator. Ralph worked at Disney doing a lot of computer animation, but he really wanted to serve the Lord, so he left Disney and started his own video development company called Seven Fold Films. Ralph has a real heart for the Lord, and he really set us up well.

To create the Insights videos, we work through a script that I make up with input from others. Then, our media team will go into our own video studio and they will film me in front of a green screen. My old drama classes come to mind as I have to do the pantomime and pretend where things are, because there's nothing really there but green screen and air. We digitize what we filmed and send that on to Seven Fold Films which computer animates all the objects around me. Everything about the Insights videos other than me is computer animated, though even then my feet and my hair for technical reasons are also computer touched up. Seven Fold Films puts all the animation pieces together. Once we get final approval from Dr. Reagan then we convert them over to a video format that goes out to YouTube and Vimeo and all these other video sharing and social media sites that make it easy for people to share and forward and put on Facebook and all.

Bill Salus: When I saw them I thought they were amazing and fantastic and wondered how you packed so much into just a minute. They are so inviting towards people and effecting in getting people to check out your ministry and encouraging people about Jesus Christ. You are giving a plethora of information in just 60 seconds and it's enhanced by the technology. The way you all do this is very gripping so that I want to hear every word that you are saying.

People can see these Bible Prophecy Insights videos by going to your website, correct?

Nathan Jones: Yes. They can be found easily right off our homepage. People can also search "Bible Prophecy Insights" on YouTube, GodTube, DailyMotion, and Vimeo. We have also put them out in our e-newsletter where people who like them then can send them on to their Facebook page and other social media contacts.

That's the real key to these Insights videos, Bill, is that they have to go out as what's called viral. They've got to be shared. For those who don't know Christ or have never given God's prophetic word much thought, they've got to be shared through the various networks. And, it works! Our video end up going places where we can never go through traditional means of media. Referral is the key to making online videos go viral. So, the more people who pass them out the more people will say to their friends, "Hey, look at this! Check this out." The more they get into the hands of people who have never considered Bible prophecy, much less even Jesus Christ, the better the opportunity to share the Gospel.


Insights Episodes

We've begun with three videos covering some of the core messages of the ministry. Here is what these episodes teach:

Episode 1 - "The Accuracy of Bible Prophecy"


Can math prove the accuracy of Bible prophecy? Let's take just 8 of the 109 prophecies fulfilled in Jesus' life. Mathematician Peter Stoner calculated that the probability of all 8 being fulfilled in the life of one person is 1 in 10 to the seventeenth power. That's 17 zeros! That'd be like filling the entire state of Texas two feet deep in quarters. Mark one, throw it in. Next, drop in a blindfolded man. The odds would be that the very first coin he picks up, that's the one with the mark. Impossible, right? Not if the Bible is truly God's Word.

Episode 2 - "Signs of Jesus' Return"


Jesus promised He would return. While we cannot know the day or hour, Jesus did give us some signs to look out for. They'd come more frequent and intense - like birth pains - the closer He got. Deadly natural disasters, crumbling morality, spiritual apostasy, world wars, technological breakthroughs, and the greatest sign of all — Israel would become a nation again. After almost 1,900 years of the Jews living in exile, it happened in 1948. Wow! We are truly living in the season of Jesus' return. Are you ready?

Episode 3 - "The Rapture"


The Bible tells us that Jesus will return one day soon to catch up — to Rapture — those who have accepted Him as Savior. Two people will be walking along and then — in the time it takes to snap your fingers — one will be left standing. In the blink of an eye, millions will be . . . gone. We will be taken off this earth to meet Jesus up in the clouds to live with the Lord forever. Those left behind will face the worst period in history — the Tribulation. Have you given your life to Jesus today? Will you be part of the Rapture?


In the next part of this interview on advancing the Gospel through social media, Bill and I will look at how technology is actually the fulfilment of a Bible prophecy and we'll look at some more ways in which the ministry uses this technology to evangelize.

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