Crusading on the web: Billy Graham goes digital

One of the world’s leading evangelical operations — which first made its mark in open air arenas and then on radio and TV — is moving in a  big way into the Internet.  It’s ambitious, but I have to wonder: could Graham’s own brand of “New Evangelization” work with the Catholic Church?

Details:

The remarkable success of evangelist Billy Graham’s Crusades for Christ did not come from his preaching alone, but also the immense amount of preparation and follow-up that went into planning each revival.

Now, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association is taking that experience and harnessing it to save souls through the Internet in a way that perhaps only such a large and established organization can.

The premise is simple: Use search engines to find people who are looking for answers to life’s big questions and direct them to www.peacewithgod.net. From there, seekers are led through a series of readings and videos loosely tied to John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” At the end of the series, they are offered a chance to pray and to accept Jesus.

Those who do become a little point of light on a Google Earth application, showing more than 476,000 souls worldwide who have been saved through the site since it went live last year.

The site has been running in a beta mode and is expected to be fully functional within a month.

At that point, hundreds of volunteers will also be online, doing such things as answering basic questions about God and Christianity to leading interested visitors through a five-week online discipleship course.

Those new Christians will be encouraged to join local churches that are cooperating with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association on the project.

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