Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Evangelism - Using the internet at Winter Conference?

I had the chance a few months ago to do some brainstorming with our NW Winter Conference design team about this year's conference (an annual event at the end of December for students, faculty, volunteers, and staff from around our seven state region - here is the facebook fan page for the last one). One of the aspects of the conference we discussed was evangelism. Like other Campus Crusade conferences around the country, we usually spend part of the conference doing outreach in the city. What if, as an aspect of this time, we did something like...

- ...have students initiate a spiritual conversation with a non-Christian friend they've been wanting to talk to from their campus or back home...while at the conference via Facebook?
- ...have students go out in the city and initiate conversations. When they've had a conversation with someone, ask if they (the student) could blog about the conversation they've just had and invite their new friend to check it out and comment. They'd need to have a blog and a leaving piece with the address. Wouldn't you want to know how someone would debrief a conversation they've had with you?
- ......same thing, but find out their name and ask if they could be their friend on Facebook/other. After connecting online, ask a follow up question from the in-person conversation.

There are lots of great resources to anchor/augment the above ideas (Boxes of Love, Soularium, Short Film Outreach,, etc.). The thing about the list above is that they all place the event within the context of a larger story and relationship. And while they use the internet, they all involve being face-to-face at some point. Could that translate in to greater things, both at and after the conference?

Any other ideas that could help our students experience the mission, harness the power of the internet...and move people toward the Savior?


  1. hey darren really like your thoughts on this.

    this sounds cliche but anything that encourages user-generated content is a win.

    it's even more of a win when shared on a corporate or official platform.

    w winter conference--rather than thinking in terms of student's blog--i'd think about what sort of user generated content could be shared on the winter conference website and fan page.

    the fan page is great, but you have to set a new one up every year--that's not the best for developing and growing your digital assets.

    the reason i think our (psw) winter conf site is boring--there is little to no user gen content, and is full of corporate speak that sounds like every other christian event.

    i think winter conference websites represent a great opportunity for redemption.

    thanks for taking feedback on this!

  2. This is really helpful, Brian.

    I like the idea of directing people to a conference fan page/site where they can interact not only with the person they talked to, but the whole conference. The blog idea felt "half-baked", but thought I'd throw it out there. Glad I did!

    Would be interesting to see what kind of engagement and interaction would happen if a WC page were a major component of an outreach day. A lot? A little? Would be fun to experiment and see what happens. Has this already happened anywhere?

    It certainly seems like a consistent fan page and/or website is the only way to go (in the past our website/fb presence has changed every year). Will definitely be talking through these things with our GNW WC design team.

  3. i heard the great plains did some sort of internet outreach this past year--don't know if they used their website.

    the other bad thing about switching websites every year is the SEO loss you incur--each of those sites have very little "google juice" since they are new, have very little to no inbound links, and usually have the theme as the url not "denver winter conference" or a term that a student wanting to explore or search for the conference would type into a search engine.

    a cool idea would be to have students from around your region blogging about the conference in the weeks leading up to the event--this would be a great way to get user generated content on the site, get free and powerful marketing for the conference, and generate some solid posts that can be shared/linked to in a variety of places--twitter, youtube, etc.

  4. Great, I'll check with the GPI to see what they did.

    We've known we needed to get our conference title to be consistent from year to year but just haven't made it happen yet (though I think we are about to land on one, thankfully). Other regions are ahead of us on this, but not sure how much they use that to their advantage (as you pointed out- using the theme rather than the conference name for a URL).

    I like the blogging idea. Similar to the evangelism ideas above, it would be great to have the conference be the climax/focal point of a larger conversation, and movement, among everyone in the region. With a little thought and creativity (and strategic actions on a fb page, etc.), it seems like we could be actively engaging and helping lead our region nearly year round.