Having a go at sharing hope

Our guest blog comes from Tim Dennis. For other blogs in our online evangelism series look here.

The adventure started about 4 weeks ago…

‘I’m stuck at home, and I’m missing people— friends we laugh with as we stand on the sideline, freezing and watching our lads play football; the pals who make me wait till after I’ve normally gone to bed to start eating curry; the mates I go to the pub with once a month to celebrate my wedding anniversary (long story).

I’m not sure how people are feeling. I want to share hope with them, but I don’t know how. Some of them I’ve never spoken with about my faith before. What do I say, and how do I say it?

I’ll make a video.

Turns out it’s way harder than you think. You think you’ve finally nailed the script and set up the shot, and someone starts mowing their lawn. So annoying!

But I did it. It was way too long, and a bit too intense (I need to learn to smile more), but I did it.

Time to sit back and watch the views come in, or not. But then a friend suggested (she might be called Nay), challenged me to invite people to connect—not just to post stuff in the social media ether, but to invite people to chat about it. It made me feel uncomfortable, but we did it. We texted WhatsApp groups and shared the invite with friends. Sadly, for various reasons no one took us up on the offer, but the whole thing got me thinking….

What if there was a way to help other people connect with their friends? What if I could produce something that others could share, to help them share hope

And Lookforhope.org was born.

I’m so grateful for the people who were willing to write blogs for the site when all that I could say was that ‘I’ve had an idea!’ But by God’s grace, just over two and half weeks ago we launched, and nearly 7,000 people have visited the site, with 20,000 page views.

This whole experience has taught me so much, but here are 4 brief lessons that I’ve been reminded of over the last few weeks:

1. Don’t drop and run

It’s easy to share a link and then hope that people see it. It’s like posting a flyer through a letterbox, or putting a poster up, which isn’t a bad thing, but let’s aim for better! Why not tag people or send people a personal message, or host a watch party. It’s all risky and might feel uncomfortable, but if you’ve done the hard work of relationship building, you will win a hearing from some. People are bombarded with stuff online (especially now) so they will easily scroll on if there is not a personal connection.

2. Don’t worry if other people are making better online videos

Do I really want to do a video? What if it’s rubbish? Well, my first video wasn’t great, and the 2nd one was only marginally better—at least it was shorter! But, whilst there is a place for wonderful professionally produced videos—they are a great resource for the church, your friends would rather hear from you, not some random they don’t know.

Some people have mentioned they’ve felt overwhelmed by the amount of resources that are available to use or share. But your friends don’t see that—they just see your timeline. So don’t record something if you’ll feel sad if it doesn’t get many likes from Christian friends—just record something for your friends.

3. Say something, not everything

To use Becky Manley-Pippert’s phrase, we need to ‘cultivate curiosity’. Sometimes it feels like the desire to share the ‘whole gospel’ with people in one go (by that I mean the crea-tion, fall/sin, the cross and resurrection) comes more from a desire to ease our con-sciences than a desire to properly connect with people. If we’ve said everything then my job is done. But that’s not how relationships or conversations work. Commit to people for the long haul, trust that God is sovereign, and that if people are interested the Spirit will move them to come back and speak with you more.

4. Engage with the questions people are actually asking

That has been a guiding principle behind the website. Yes, of course people need to know how we can be sure that Jesus is God, but that’s not what people are worried about right now. Aim to connect with people’s anxieties and desires; show them that the Christian faith speaks into their lives, confronting and comforting and pointing them to a certain hope. And you might actually find they want to hear more.

Now I just need to go and ‘practice what I preach.’

Tim Dennis

Tim is currently a Curate in Winklebury & Worting in Basingstoke.  Before training and ordination, Tim worked with UCCF for 10 years.  Tim is passionate about connecting people with Jesus and regularly speaks or leads evangelistic courses.  Tim is currently working on a new evangelistic course called LifeStory, which will hopefully be published soon.

Published by Nay Dawson

I'm Nay, I live in Southampton married to the wonderful Jon, we have two girls. I work for IFES Europe as their Regional Training Co-ordinator

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