Using the Internet for Evangelization

I have only been blogging for a little over a year, so please take any advice given here with that in mind.  There are some great pioneers in using the internet to spread the Gospel.  I am only riding on their able coattails.

But what I have found is that when it comes to evangelizing online, one size does not fit all.  There are different approaches that should be taken in different venues and there are different methods of giving and acquiring information.


I have found blogging to be like giving a sermon.  Thoughts are collected in advance and then presented to the community.  There isn’t a lot of interruption or questions.  Blogging reflections and essays forces you to collect your thoughts into some kind of coherent unity so that you can express yourself effectively.  And just as long sermons tend to upset more than they uplift, long blog articles do, too.  Blogging is not like writing a book.  You must be concise and clear in a few paragraphs or you will lose the interest of the audience.


I remember when I first started delving into online evangelization.  I would frequent one particular blog where a horribly nasty person would constantly goad everyone in the comments section.  I tried engaging this person is reasoned debate and conversation.  Others on the board told me I was wasting my time.  In my arrogance I thought that all that had been lacking was the keen insight that I was now providing.  And of course, I was the idiot.

Here is the problem with trying to debate someone on a message board, comment section, twitter replies, etc.:  It is too public.  Sometimes we fight, not because we know we are right, but because we want to save face.  It is very human to not want to admit you are wrong.  In these forums, even if the most reasoned argument is presented, the will and human pride can blunt their effect.

Also, the sense of anonymity can give people freedom to be horribly vulgar.

The best use of these venues is, instead, encouragement.  If you’ve read something that you enjoy, let the writer know so that they can continue to build up the Kingdom.  Sharing your own reflections and insights can show the author how their work is evocative or provocative.

But what if you do want to have a deep conversation with someone who does not believe?


Comparatively, email is now the slowest of the digital communication mediums.  But it can still be the most effective.  In emails, you can take your time in writing back and forth with another.  And best of all, it can be private.  Here, you are free to make mistakes and admit it.  Here, you don’t have to worry about impressing anyone else.  Here, you can carry on a true dialogue with someone in a personal way.

I have found that there are some questions that students very much want to ask, but would not dare in the classroom.  They only ask in private.  The same applies to using email.  I sometimes get some of the most profound questions from former students in college asking honestly about issues of faith.


As with message boards and comments, Twitter is not really the place to have rational debate.  It can be a very ugly place.  Don’t believe me? Check out the replies people make to Pope Francis’ tweets (be warned, many are NSFW).  When I look at those, I do not get angry.  Instead, I take a moment and I pray for each person who attacks him.  Twitter lets you target your prayers on the poor souls who are screaming out their emptiness without God.

Twitter can be a great source of inspiration.  Because you get to choose who you follow, you can fill your twitter feed with inspirational words from the pope, the saints, C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Scripture, etc.  Then you can pass them along.  The text limitation forces you to be pithy and to the point.

Twitter can also be a fast source for breaking information.  When Pope Francis was elected, I didn’t have to look him up on the internet.  Within minutes I got his entire biography through my twitter feeds and I was able to pass it along to anyone who followed me.


I am not on Facebook.  They encourage teachers to stay away.  But what I have noticed that you can create a sense of community.  Often when we fight the good fight, we feel alone.  That is not an accident.  The media wants you to feel like an out-of-touch freak.  Facebook lets you know that you are not as out of touch as they want you to think.


For good or for ill we are a multi-media culture.  For many of us our most emotional artistic connection is to movies and music.  Youtube offers a way to tap into that art and share it all over the world.  There is a wonderful opportunity to inspire and inform.  We can capture and post the great preachers we know.  We can create movies that lift our thoughts to God.  We can post online musical reflections that stir the soul and inflame the heart.


I am sure there is much more someone more experienced could say.  But be wise and pick your battles carefully.  Know what arena you are stepping into so that you can most effectively preach the Gospel by the power of the Spirit.

Copyright © 2013, W.L. Grayson

W.L. Grayson

W.L. Grayson

I am a devoutly Catholic theology teacher who loves a popular culture that often, quite frankly, hates me. I grew up absorbing every movie, TV show, comic book, science fiction novel, etc. I could find. As of today I’ve watched over 2100 movies and tv shows. They take up a huge part of my life. I don’t know that this is a good thing, but it has given me a common vocabulary to draw from in order to illustrate whatever theological point I make in class. I’ve used American Pie the song to explain the Book of Revelation (I’ll post on this some time later) and American Pie the movie to help explain Eucharist (don’t ask). The point is that the popular culture is popular for a reason. It is woven into the fabric of our lives and imaginations, for good or ill. In this blog I will attempt to bring together the things of heaven with the things of earth. Of course this goal may be too lofty for someone like me.

3 responses to “Using the Internet for Evangelization”

  1. nweber says:

    I am looking for a message board to ask a question. Here is my question: I am a high school Theology teacher. I teach freshmen. I want to require my students to attend daily Mass at our school because it supports my curriculum so beautifully. I teach the Salvation History story. My department head is opposed to requiring the students to go to Mass. He believes you should go to Mass because you want to go, not because it is required. I want to understand his thoughts but believe it is okay to ask students to attend a daily Mass at school once per week. Our school does make requirements of our students in other areas such as service hours. Can you recommend a message board that I can present this question or does anyone have thoughts on this question? Thanks.

    • Hi,
      I do not know of a message board for religious education questions anymore. I understand your desire to get your students to attend Mass but I have to agree with your department head. And I speak as a director of religious education and former youth minister who struggles as to why families and students don’t attend Mass even though they are enrolled in a Catholic school or parish religion program. You can ask, invite and encourage but to require is beyond our place. God asks us to honor him by keeping the Sabbath holy and even he can’t convince them! My pastor says we have to morally persuade. How about talking about what you get from daily Mass? Briefly, mention a reading and what you learned or how receiving communion helps you be patient or opens you to be more thoughtful. Can you allow your students to serve as a lector or altar server, sometimes that helps. Our behavior and passion will lead more people to Mass than requiring them to go. With hope, deanna

    • W.L. Grayson says:

      I too am a freshmen theology teacher and I understand your position. Deanna’s words are wise about encouraging rather than compelling. Some other possible suggestions:

      1. Gospel Summaries. One thing that I do is I have my students summarize one of the readings (often the Gospel) from Sunday’s mass. This does not require them to attend, especially if they are not Catholic, since I provide them with the Biblical reference they can look up on their own. But if they do go to Church with their family, it gives them an opportunity to pay attention. This also creates an objective, gradable assignment that does not impose spirituality, but encourages it through engagement in the material.

      2. Build on what is there. Perhaps take note of the students who already go to mass in the morning and begin to form some community building. At my school, I noted the students who were in chapel every morning and I invited them to plan a freshmen retreat with me. Now we also do some short prayers after the service is ended. They sometimes encourage and invite others. The invitation to spirituality from peers can be much more effective than from adults.

      3. Mass for class
      There is nothing to prevent you from asking your principle if you can take class time to attend a mass in your chapel. You would simply need to get his permission and make arrangements with a priest. You can say you want the class to have an intimate mass experience. And since it will be during class time and not outside of it, I cannot foresee an objection.

      I pray that this helps.

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