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This is a guest blog post by Lisa DeSherlia. Learn how you can become a guest blogger here.
Sign this petition & save the African lions!
Sign this petition to keep this murderer behind bars!
Sign this petition and protect children!
Sign this petition and fight oppression against women!
Sign this petition and get this innocent man out of prison!
The Question About Followers of Jesus & Online Petitions
I know that to many believers, online ministry in any form is not seen as a valid form of ministry in the way that traditional, offline, in-person ministry is. To many, it’s like a person just hiding behind a computer screen because that is easier than dealing with people face-to-face. To be sure, it is easy to do that because we can present ourselves in any way we want and because nonverbal communication is absent.
It has taken years for online ministry to catch up with traditional ministry. Now that it has, more and more believers, especially those who are passionate about ending abortion or guarding Western religious liberties, are using social media for ministry. One of the things they are doing is starting online petitions. Many in the prolife movement, for example, have started multiple petitions calling for Planned Parenthood to be stripped of taxpayer funds. This has come to the attention of a divided Congress. They remain in gridlock over this issue but at least it has come to their attention! Last year, many nonprofits created multiple petitions to free Meriam Ibrahim from a Sudanese prison, where she was in chains with two of her children for being a believer. She was freed from prison after eight months.
Yes, online petitions can make a difference! I know that some people do not think this is true and I have been told so much, but I know differently.
My Experience With Signing & Starting Online Petitions
I signed so many petitions since I joined Facebook years ago, that I cannot keep track of all the online petitions I have signed. The first online petition I created was to appeal to the U.S. Congress to fund autism services for all in need of them, regardless of their ability to pay. To sum it up, because of account issues, I had to re-start this petition and re-do it and it is active. Four of my online petitions pertain to reducing abortion through improving laws so it will become unthinkable. As a “no-name” person without $$$ to run ads, I have never found it easy to gather signatures. No, this post is not an effort to get petition signatures! If you are interested in signing you will need to visit my website linked below, to find out more. I certainly would gratefully accept your support on these petitions! Certainly no believer need sign or create any online or traditional petition, to follow Jesus or make a difference for Him and people. I know of people, both believers and non-believers, who refuse to sign any petitions. Period. This is their choice and they have other ways of advocating. But we have been called to speak up for those who can’t speak up for themselves. Aren’t online petitions one way to do this in this high-tech age?
More Personal Experiences
When I was busy circulating my first version of my autism petition, I had some church opposition. At the time, I was in a denomination that believed and wrote into their by-laws, that pastors and leadership should not get involved in any public advocacy. The pastor stated in a sermon: “Because of our by-laws, I cannot speak into many issues that I, for one, feel very strongly about.” When I had approached him about circulating my petition among members of our large congregation, I was declined and told that allowing me to do this violated official denominational church body policy. He did sign it on his own, but the point is that the idea that believers should not mess with public advocacy, has been institutionalized in some denominations. Should it be this way? Aren’t we called to both personal service as well as public advocacy? After all, Jesus not only preached and taught, but also healed and defended the oppressed. We need both evangelism and social involvement!
Every Christian’s Calling & Online Petitions
Our primary calling is to love God and love others. This includes the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. These are to know, love, and trust God and to serve others through lives of love and words of truth. There are many, many different ways to fulfill the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. We are all called differently. Just as all of us who focus on online ministry need those who focus on traditional ministry, so those of us who focus on traditional ministry need those of us who focus on online ministry. This includes creating and signing online petitions that are consistent with Biblical values.
So what has God called you to do?