Interview

with Jens and Mike of gracenotworks.com

I suspect it all started with Mike finding me in his referer list but the relationship began when he e-mailed me about my site (called Corban at the time) and I found that I had been linked to from the gracenotworks newsbox. This was not only my first introduction to blogger, it was the first time I had ever seen a Christian website that was that green. Mike does the design, Jens writes most of the articles and Alex does the "techy" stuff. Together they are gracenotworks.com.


Do you consider yourselves to be involved in internet evangelism?
[Jens]: If by internet evangelism you mean the preaching of God's word for the conversion of unbelievers, then yes we are. And keenly so. Click on the sheep, or hit any of our banner adds and you find yourself confronted with the gospel of grace. Even the site name lends itself to conversations about what we believe. But our primary focus through gracenotworks.com is to encourage and edify other Christians so that they will be involved in spreading the news of salvation in Christ, whether via the web or by chatting with friends on the bus.

Is the internet an appropriate medium to use to communicate the gospel?
[Jens]: Absolutely. Let me give three reasons why it's a great medium for gospelling. First, the web is word-based, just like the gospel. You may use pictures or images on the web, but always in conjunction with words if your aim is to communicate clearly. So like communicating the gospel through a book, newspaper or other such written medium, the web is great for preaching our word based message: Jesus is King. Second, the internet's ability to quickly disseminate information across great distances adds to its merit as a gospelling tool. Who would have thought 50 years ago that we in Australia could be preaching salvation in Christ to English speakers in 5 different continents in one night? Third, the web allows a kind of interaction and response which is not found in books or even newspapers. If you don't like something you've just read on my site, you can easily tell me via email. Likewise, if you have just prayed the prayer ending our gospel presentation you can email us and let us know. This allows for better and speedier follow-up and encouragement than available through other written mediums.

Are there any important differences between ministry on the internet and ministry in person?
[Jens]: Great question. The primary difference between web ministry and ministry in person is that of relationship. I may benefit from reading Christian web articles, but I won't get to know the authors like I would if I saw them every day for a year. So inherent in the medium is a distance which needs to be considered. And that's why we keep praising God for the ministry of gracenotworks.com but we don't stop also meeting together at church, and ministering there, nor do we stop telling our non-Christian friends we see each day about the hope we have in Christ. Web ministry is a great way of communicating Jesus, but it doesn't stop us from also ministering to those we meet each day.

What kind of person is likely to respond to a gospel presentation on the internet?
[Jens]: The kind of person God chooses to call to obey His Gospel. I guess the only real parameters we could offer with a web gospel presentation would be that the person had (1) access to the web, (2) could read our language, and (3) was given eyes to see and willingness to respond to God's word. That's it.

Have you had any response from the gospel presentation on your site?
[Jens]: Yes. Christians are edified by our clear presentation and as far as I know the ending prayer has confronted some. Has anyone become Christian? That's God's business, but we praise God whenever someone emails us saying they have prayed the prayer.

Your content is for the most part aimed at Christians, how conscious are you of non-Christian readers when you write/publish the articles?
[Jens]: Our primary aim is to challenge Christians to a deeper understanding of God's grace. But at the same time we know that non-Christians find and read our articles too. So we are always keen to include the gospel in our articles; after all that's what moves Christians on, but we are also keen to try to make it as clear as possible for the non-Christian what implications the gospel has for those who do not know God.
[Mike]: (sorry I've been so quiet until now ... Jenso's answers have been very good and I doubt I could have added much. Now, back to the question ...) I think in general, we try to get make the site interesting to you whether you are a Christian or not. The articles are obviously our primary method of communication, but I think we are able to strengthen that communication by means of the site's overall "personality". The language, humour, and style of imagery throughout the site all contribute to this "personality".

Jens and Mike

Why did you decide to get involved in net ministry?
[Jens]: Easy: Alex and Mike were good at it, and I couldn't let that opportunity slip.
[Mike]: Ah shucks, Jenso ... it seems that my whole life I have been looking for a creative outlet - sometimes it was painting, sometimes drawing, sometimes making home videos, but with gnw I have found something that allows me to have fun and be creative, while also actually producing something meaningful that (we pray) brings glory to the Lord. Jens keeps throwing all these great articles and fantastic Christian content at me, and I get the priviledge of deciding how they will be presented.

How much time would you spend each week on stuff related to the website? Does it affect how much time you spend on 'flesh and blood' ministry?
[Jens]: 1/2 a day a week on GNW related things and the rest is "real ministry" smile
[Mike]: "flesh and blood" ministry for me consists of running a bible study for some high school guys, as well as quite a bit of involvement in the St Matts (http://www.stmattsmanly.org.au) evening service on a Sunday. My job (as a designer for Ion Global) takes up about 40 hours a week, so whatever time I have left after those things is when I do GNW stuff. Probably works out to be about 10-12 hours a week.

Would you encourage others to do internet evangelism?
[Jens]: I think if you have a computer, access to the web or simply e-mail, you should be asking yourself "why am I not using this for the proclamation of the gospel?". And if you are, then praise God - you are in the business of internet evangelism!
[Mike]: Definitely get yourself on the web if you can - the number of people you can reach is enormous, and if you think carefully about what you are doing, you can have a real impact of people's lives. Your site doesn't necessarily have to be aimed at reaching a worldwide audience, though. Even just putting together a site for your youth group or bible study can provide a source of real encouragement for the members of the group.

What advice would you give about what to do?
[Mike]: Take the time to present what you want to say properly. In the gospel, you have the most exciting, amazing message that anyone could ever hear, but if it is presented really badly, or if it's ugly, or if it's unreadable, then not many people will benefit from it.
[Jens]: Stick to the script: it sounds like dumb advice but you won't believe how tempted you will be to make the gospel more palatable to unbelievers, both within and outside the church. Second: as you preach the word faithfully, do it in the best way you can. God's word isn't boring and neither should you make it so by your presentation. Finally, rely on the fact that it is God who does the work: You may sow the seed, another may water it, but God is the one who makes it grow. So be prayerful and faithful, even when you don't see results.

gracenotworks.com

Be sure to check out their excellent work.

Now to weigh it all up and decide what to make of e-vangelism.

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