Leviticus has a message for online ministry (@soonguy)

One online page about Leviticus is titled Daring to Delight in Leviticus – because the book is perhaps not an instinctive go-to place for inspiration!

It’s interesting how Leviticus is an integrated mix of ceremonial and civil law, health care, ethics and instructions for human behaviour. Joined-up thinking, not separated into little boxes.

Of course, a Christian worldview is by definition integrated. We can’t have compartments of our lives that our worldview does not touch, no ‘spiritual’ versus ‘normal-life’ split.

Of the many themes in Leviticus, I’ve picked out three that are surely relevant for our modern society (the last is surely almost never tried).

1. False weights 19:36
The temptation to mis-sell is universal and rampant. While things may not be often literally underweight, we know how frequently they are misrepresented legally or illegally (containers that look bigger then they are), misleading descriptions, horsemeat instead of beef, or financial products that don’t do what they say on the tin.

2. Look after the outsider 19:34
How many wars, revolutions and tragedies would have been prevented if only majority populations had treated minorities with parity of esteem.

3. Year of Jubilee 25:8
Have many societies used the principles behind the Year of Jubilee: everything is held lightly, effectively on leasehold care to be passed on to future generations, so that huge disparities in property wealth cannot accumulate? It’s not common!

Web applications

Do these three themes relate to web ministry?

I suggest that no false weights resonates with being trustworthy and reliable online. Professor B J Fogg in his book Persuasive Technology has analyzed the factors that promote online credibility – elements that help website visitors make a quick judgement as to whether they can place confidence in the site – what it says, what it may offer to deliver. Christian ‘overclaim’ is not unknown online, is it? Or ‘bait and switch’ – pages which mislead in order to hook a visitor.

Helping the foreigner
is hugely significant for all online Christian ministry – see Colossians 4:5. Even if a website is aimed primarily at Jesus-followers, outsiders may visit. Will what they read be understandable, gracious, ‘a sweet savour’? Or ghettoized, harsh and intolerant? If a site is intended to be evangelistic, perhaps it may obscure its message by starting at the wrong point, or by using Christianese terminology and jargon. Church websites and social media, which should be accessible to outsiders, need to constantly keep this in mind. Internet Toolbox for Churches website, newsletter and podcast have a wise and helpful emphasis on this.

Year of Jubilee perhaps connects with the online spirit of freely sharing resources – ‘Creative Commons’. A new free ebook proposes the concept of ‘Christian Commons’, and appeals for ministries and missions to ‘let go’ of eavngelistic, discipleship and teaching materials and allow them to widely used by others.

Internet Evangelism Day – a resource for these concepts

Internet Evangelism Day is set for 21 April – precisely to help Christians engage appropriately with outsiders. Would you like to use this day to inform your church about the many opportunities they have? You could:

  • Reproduce (or link to) our short news item in your church announcement sheet, church newsletter, blog or website, or any other media.
  • Create a short focus spot in a meeting on (or near) 21 April, or even theme an entire service around digital evangelism opportunities. A very short focus spot might be little more than a verbal announcement.
  • If more time is available, you could project a video short such as the YesHEIs video below (download it here), some PowerPoint slides, or an interview with a church member involved in digital ministry.
Trust graphic: Ninjali Deviant Art | Creative Commons

About soonguy

Tony Whittaker is coordinator for Internet Evangelism Day | Team member, SOON Ministries, Derby UK. Contact him here.