At any given moment, millions of people are turning to search engines for answers. According to Review 42, 5.4 billion Google searches around the globe occur every day. People are looking for answers online.
Adapting to the ever-changing landscape of technology can be discouraging for many pastors and churches. Where do you start? How can you build a meaningful connection with someone online?
As overwhelming as this task might seem, the Church is uniquely positioned to reach these people and actually has more power to impact them with the gospel than ever before. The key lies in felt needs.
What are felt needs and why do people respond to them?
“Felt needs” are the common struggles people face on a regular basis. Things like grief, loneliness, or issues of self-worth. Millions of searches that occur every month are comprised of individuals who are looking for answers to felt needs. They’re struggling, and they want real answers to these struggles. As Christians, we recognize that the gospel is the answer to any felt need that someone could ever have. Are you feeling burdened? Jesus can lighten your load. Are you feeling hurt? Jesus can be your comforter.
Felt needs are a terrific opportunity to share the gospel. They provide a natural entry point into someone’s life and can give you the chance to meet them on an emotional level. Understanding what felt needs are and being prepared to address them with those who are struggling will lead to individuals opening up about their lives. This can quickly lead to a powerful connection and transition to present the gospel.
Why are people turning to the internet for answers?
People are turning to the internet at scale to find solutions to their problems. Every month people search for phrases like “meaning of life," “how to be happy,” or “what happens when you die” upwards of 50K-100K times. Some of these people don’t actually have someone they can talk to in real life. Others just feel safer sharing personal details with strangers on the internet. But in each of these cases, people are looking online because they feel they’ll find the answers they need at the moment they need them. After all, if you can find all sorts of life hacks online, why shouldn’t you be able to find answers to some of life’s biggest questions?
How do you connect with someone who is dealing with a felt need?
At CV Outreach, we run advertisements online using gospel-centered video content that addresses specific felt needs. Our goal is to elicit responses and get the individuals connected to a local church. We receive real responses from real people that are dealing with these issues. Some of the most common responses we get are from those who just lost a loved one, are having marriage issues, are struggling with depression or anxiety, or people who are just feeling angry with life. This is just one example:
“Im a recovering heroin addict with custody of my 10 yo daughter. I'm going through a divorce because my addiction hurt the woman I loved and myself. I feel alone and hopeless.”
There’s this immediate bond that’s formed when somebody feels like you understand what they’re going through. Just by watching our video content and seeing our ads, they feel like we’re someone that they can trust and that we’re someone who “gets it.”
Although you may not have the budget to run advertisements, there are plenty of other ways to reach people online. Consider building a social media strategy, starting a blog, starting conversations with people you know, or partnering with digital outreach organizations like us (CV Outreach)!
The internet is such an amazing way to form meaningful connections with people and let them know that Jesus is the answer to their problems. Through it, you can build incredible relationships online. If you can learn to successfully connect with those people, then you’ll be able to reach them right where they’re at with the hope of Jesus Christ.