Peace to the Far and Near: How God Is Using Digital Ministry


Jason loves people. He wants to know what’s happening with his friends and family, but his developmental disabilities limit his social opportunities. So, he turns to digital platforms to keep up with loved ones.

Augusta suffers from chronic Lyme disease. Sensitivity to the environment can keep her from the outside world for months at a time. This effectively limits her connection to others to social media.

Mary is a stay-at-home mom with two young children. While she does her best to get out daily, most of life is spent at home. She is grateful for phone apps that link her to treasured adult relationships.

The power of digital ministry to connect us

The COVID-19 outbreak has required social distancing measures, which have left many longing for connection and leaning into digital communication, such as video chat and social media. But, for some, like Jason, Augusta and Mary, quarantine procedures don’t look that different from everyday life.

While the average American spends 2.5 hours on social media daily, according to Statista, people with social difficulties, anxiety, chronic illness and other challenges have long found the internet a great way to connect.

Ken Cochrum, vice president of Global Digital Strategies for Cru®, says this present moment is a “golden opportunity” for Christians to reach out to friends and neighbors online and share the love of Christ like never before.

He says, as Christians, we must communicate about God in a way the world understands, and most people today understand digital media.

Last year, 194 million people visited Cru’s websites and applications from 200 countries around the world. Before the COVID-19 crisis, people were looking for answers about life and Christ online.

“Digital ministry is about presenting Christ within five to 10 seconds on a 4-inch piece of glass anywhere in the world when somebody searches.”

Ken Cochrum

Reaching your social network online

There’s great potential to share the message of Jesus’ love using digital tools, but it can be difficult to know where to begin. Ken’s team produced several resources to help Christians with this.

Still, he says the best thing to do is start simply: Ask God to show you friends online who need Him and choose a couple of them to pray for. Consider specifically friends who may normally be overlooked.

Once you’ve chosen these friends, consider reaching out with a video or article about the love of God, mentioning that they came to mind. Or you can simply ask how they are and how you can be praying for them.

Digital missionaries help Christians understand that digital ministry is about reaching “real people with real problems and relationships.” And there are numerous ways to make these connections.

Assisting people asking for help online

Two boys breathe softly, tucked into their beds for the night. In another room, their dad opens his computer, seeking relief from this new reality of single-parenthood. Something draws him to the simple online form he fills out, which requests his name, age, gender and a description of his situation.

Two weeks and a few emails later, the fog begins to lift. The man and his new mentor, Ken, have navigated some precarious territory. Ken is coaching him to study the Bible with his kids and helping him understand how to offer and receive forgiveness. The single dad is moving forward with support and resources that direct him to the God who loves him and can restore.

While Ken is a leader in digital ministry for Cru, he wants to have a personal ministry to practice what he preaches. He’s found his place through online mentoring, where he guides people, like the young dad mentioned above, on their spiritual journeys.

The Mentor Ministry is a tool developed by Power to Change, as Cru is known in Canada. For 25 years, this strategy has connected question-askers with people who want to help because they’ve experienced the transformational love of Jesus.

“Behind every screen is a person. And behind every person is a story. And every story matters to God.”

Ken Cochrum

Mentoring: A two-way street

Sheldon Kotyk, national director of Digital Strategies for Power to Change, says digital mentoring serves both the mentee and the mentor. For those in need, it provides contact with someone who can help and an opportunity to encounter Jesus as the mentor prays for them.

For volunteers, Sheldon says, mentoring is like “evangelism training wheels.” It provides a vehicle for personal ministry that also serves as a catalyst for spiritual growth and confidence.

Opportunities abound

With the majority of people living life at a distance, the demand for mentorship continues to surge. As of April 30, 2020, there are 640 people requesting a mentor in the system. That number is expected to continue to rise through the summer of 2020 and beyond.

Considered a “digital doorway,” online mentorship can help churches reach those they may not intersect with.

“The internet offers us the opportunity to get to people who would never grace the church door,” says Vern, a mentor in his 70s.

In partnership with others, including churches and radio stations, the strategy supports mentor activity in any online realm where ministry is happening.

Your part in digital ministry

How might God be calling you to engage in digital ministry?

Do you have friends like Jason, Augusta or Mary whom you can reach out to on social media?

Are you looking for a place to make a difference in the lives of those who need it? Could online mentorship be for you?

See how you can begin to make intentional connections and share God’s love online with these resources.

Rebecca Kelsall
Words by

Rebecca Kelsall

Rebecca Kelsall is a journalist with Cru®. She graduated in 2013 with a B.A. in multimedia journalism. She is proudly Hispanic American, a dog-mom, and interested in culture and psychology.

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Melissa Long
Words by

Melissa Long

Melissa Long serves as a writer for Cru®. As a native of Lookout Mountain, Georgia, Melissa appreciates the deep quiet of forested mountains. She currently resides on the edge of a wooded swamp in Florida with her husband, two kids and a devoted but somewhat deranged cat named Maple.

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Guy Gerrard
Photos by

Guy Gerrard

Guy isn’t much of a city person. Paddling down the Wda river in northern Poland with participants of a Cru® summer mission project describes a great place for him to photograph. He likes being outside, doing anything with water, and he enjoys making things with his hands. Guy serves as a photographer for Cru.

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Read more from the May 2020 issue


Partnering on the Campus Circuit

Cru® and Circuit Riders together pioneer new ministries on college campuses in Southern California and beyond.

May 2020

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