President Obama’s remarkable 2008 campaign, with its innovative use of the Internet, put him in the White House. Christian congregations can use the campaign model, the Internet, and the creation of robust networks of motivated people to spread the Gospel to a new generation. The advent of new technologies and ubiquitous high-speed access to the Internet has created a new opportunity for congregations to build stronger communities and reach new populations that are not currently represented by their membership roles.
The magnitude of this opportunity was made abundantly clear by President (Elect) Obama’s remarkable presidential campaign. The first term senator from Illinois used the Internet, social networking and media portals like Youtube to involved people in the political process as never before. These new technologies made possible new relationships and leveraged existing relationships to involve and enroll people in Senator Obama’s campaign in ways that were both more immediate and more active than would have otherwise been possible. From the time an Obama supporter made his or her first contribution through the Obama web site he or she was actively involved in the campaign. Daily e-mails kept supporters up to date on the latest campaign developments. Every e-mail included an invitation to watch a video on Youtube, make financial contribution, or to get involved in a local campaign activity. One click of a button and a volunteer was able to sign up to canvas her or his own neighborhood to register voters or to encourage people to go to the poles. The campaign web site gave supporters direct access to local resources and provided opportunities to get personally involved by hosting or attending a debate watch party, training to be a canvasser, or training to be a neighborhood campaign leader.
There is more here than a good political campaign. New networks of committed and involved supporters were created in every state and every city in the country. These networks will survive long after the election if given attention and purpose. These ongoing networks give people direct access to the issues and potentially, to the President’s staff. These networks also give the president enormous leverage to get work done by mobilizing grassroots support for legislation and initiatives.
There are three important components to President Obama’s successful campaign that could make a huge difference to congregations seeking to do evangelism:
- The effective use of a campaign to mobilize people around a common cause,
- The use of Internet to build community, effectively communicate a mission and purpose to that community, and to organize and mobilize people to do the work to achieve that mission and purpose,
- And finally, the creation of robust networks of people who are motivated to work together for personal and common objectives.