A few years ago, Elbert Charpie, pastor of First Baptist Church, Citronelle, in Mobile Baptist Association, attended an ERC training at Mobile Association and heard about plans to develop a chat feature to reach seekers online.
"I got real excited about that, because I saw it as a step in using media to reach out globally," Charpie
So when N.S.R.K. Ravi, coordinator of the ERC
, contacted Charpie and asked for his
help in designing the web chat module, Charpie drew from his
background in technology and got to work.
developed both the chat tool and a training program for volunteers, according to Ravi, expanding both the reach of the ERC
to spiritual seekers and the witnessing opportunities for ERC volunteers, called encouragers.
More than 26,000 seekers called the phone lines last year alone, and Charpie
believes the chat tool has the potential to reach even more because of the ever-increasing time people spend online.
"Technology keeps moving forward, and the online chat is another way to bring the timeless message of the gospel using modern technology," Charpie
In addition to more covenant churches and more access to the chat feature, Charpie
said the ERC
needs more encouragers to staff the chat line.
emphasized that both telephone and online evangelism are great for people who have never been involved in evangelism before, because "someone is coming to you who is interested in talking."
"There are lots of folks who get on Facebook and surf the Web," Charpie