Whatsapp Evangelism, Discipleship, and pastoral care

How is whatsapp being used around the world to reach out with the gospel or connect Christians and help them grow in faith and deeper community?

A Few days ago WhatsApp launched a new desktop app to make it easier for it’s one billion users to connect their  WhatsApp account to their computer  (provided their phone is also on and connected to the internet.)

Of course not all those billion own a computer . The platform is designed as an alternative to SMS text messaging for smartphone users and it’s definitely been taking off since it’s launch in 2009 and it’s acquisition by Facebook in 2014.

A survey of 21,000 youth living in Mexico, Guatamala and Peru showed just how many people are using the app. The survey investigated attitudes to technology, language, and scripture, and the people behind it are now looking at how the results will shape strategies for encouraging scripture engagement in those and other countries.

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whatsapp-and-bible-300x236Back in 2014 in Nigeria Moses Osagiede wanted a way to connect with students in campus ministry  and also noticed young people wanting to ask questions in church during the Bible studies when time didn’t always permit. He turned to WhatsApp as an aid to discipleship and pastoral care. You can read more here  https://indigitous.org/2014/05/21/ministry-opportunities-using-whatsapp/

Over in India, media startup Duta is already offering people daily psalms in English, Malayalam, Tamil, Hindi. The service also offers devotionals from the dutabibleBhagava Gita, Quran, Gurugranth, Vivekananda, Daily Panchang, Lord Balaji, and Lord Ganesha. This seems a great reminder that you don’t always need to set up an exclusively Christian site in order to encourage people to explore Christian scriptures. See https://duta.in/bible.php for details.

WhatsApp can handle a variety of different writing systems it doesn’t yet handle them all. It is of course possible to distribute photos of text so to share scriptures we just need the right interface to do that with a minimum number of clicks. (see a http://scriptsource.org for a fantastic introduction to the complex world of alphabets and writing systems). Sharing scriptures is great. Getting people to react to or talk about the shared scripture should also be a goal.The real goal is not to write scripture on people’s phone but on their hearts.

I was an early adopter of facebook and twitter but I’ve been a bit late getting into whatsapp as I didn’t really want to give the service access to every name and number on my phone. This is a much smaller list than the people I’m connected to via facebook or twitter and I do have a lot of detail on my blog and on other platforms I’ve communicated through over the years.

The basic advice for anyone using any form of social media remains – don’t post anything you’d not be happy to be seen by friends, family, employers, colleagues, government agencies, and anyone else on the planet.

Like most other social media services you (or your teenagers) have the opportunity to connect with people you know and with people you don’t, so use it wisely.

Wikipedia has a little more on the history of WhatsApp and some of the challenges and risks. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WhatsApp

How else is WhatsApp being used? I’m connecting a little with other Christians around the world to find out so stay tuned and share your own experiences.

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2 thoughts on “Whatsapp Evangelism, Discipleship, and pastoral care

  1. Good question and good insight about exposure. I have a strong preference for face-to-face-and-breathing-the-same-air conversations for personalized evangelism and discipleship (i.e., actually doing it rather than just talking about it as an issue). For me, telecommunications is a great *support* for that, but in a world of so much marketing “noise,” it seems like the crown jewel of personal connection for evangelism and discipleship is —and I suspect will increasingly be— the most personal-and-present sort of relating possible, with all the other wonderful options being a support for that. I’ll be interested to hear how others actually do evangelism and discipleship using WhatsApp.

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    1. Great comment Ed. I suspect the value of WhatsApp in a face-to-face-and-breathing-the-same-air conversation is that you can have something cool on your phone to show someone as a discussion point and then pass on to them via WhatsApp. Old school paper tract meets cell phone, and in the process of passing on the info you exchange contact details and can arrange to breathe the same air again. (you can still give the paper tract if it works for you)

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