By Laura McKillip Wood
The smell of fresh bread and pastries wafted around Eugene* as he stepped through the bakery door in Banja Luka, Bosnia. Shelves of baked goods lined one wall, and people quietly spoke with the cashier as they made their purchases. Eugene noticed two young men his age standing near him. One man wore a jacket with the name of a band on it. “I like that band,” Eugene said. After chatting for a moment, Eugene sat down with David and Petar. They drank coffee and talked about their shared love of music. As they prepared to leave, they set up a time to meet again.
This chance meeting began a great friendship. Eugene, a recent Bible college graduate, had just moved to Banja Luka that day in February 2018, so he was excited to make friends. The trio began meeting on a weekly basis. Eugene eventually shared his faith with the two men. They listened politely, but neither expressed interest in knowing more about Christianity. David and Petar just weren’t concerned with spiritual matters.
Searching for Seekers
This may sound like a solid method of lifestyle evangelism, but it did not produce the hoped-for results.
“This is why our media program is so important,” Eugene says.
He and his teammates use an innovative method of reaching out to seekers in their region. The Media to Disciple Making Movements strategy utilizes social media to find people interested in spiritual topics and establish relationships with them using methods from the Discipleship Making Movement (DMM).
Eugene and his teammate Anna create videos, pictures with Scriptures, and thought-provoking quotes that they post on Facebook. Ninety-eight percent of Bosnians have Facebook accounts, and Eugene and Anna can tailor posts to reach just the people in the Banja Luka region. The videos he creates share the stories of Bosnian Christians describing how they came to follow Christ and why. When people are interested in learning more about Jesus, they click on the post to respond, which redirects to the group’s website, where they see more testimonies and can request information. This process efficiently finds people who are seeking God.
After identifying people who are interested in learning more, the team sets up face-to-face meetings and encourages them to talk about what is going on in their lives and why they are interested in matters of faith. This is when the DMM strategies come into play.
“DMM gets people together in natural social networks to study the Bible,” Eugene explains. “They read Scripture, talk about what it means, and what it would look like if they applied it to their lives.”
Each Bible study involves reading a passage of Scripture and discussing five questions: What do you like/not like about this passage? What does this passage teach us about God? What does it teach us about man? If this passage is true, how will your life be different? Who can you share this with this week?
The DMM method is simple, reproducible, and anyone can lead it. This movement has grown around the world because people can easily take this way of studying the Bible to their social networks and replicate it.
Eugene emphasizes the importance of both media and the DMM elements in their work. He points to his meetings with David and Petar as an example. They met consistently for months, but it seemed to result in no spiritual growth.
“It’s easy to make friends and hang out with them, and those friendships have their own value,” Eugene says. “However, those friends may or may not care about spiritual things. In a country with this many people, it’s hard to filter through all of them, one coffee at a time, to reach those who might really be interested.”
As an example of how targeted media ministry differs from traditional ministry, Eugene tells the story of Omar.
Since Bosnia has a large Muslim population, the team launched media campaigns geared toward people celebrating Ramadan in 2018. Muslims who become Christians often report seeing visions of Jesus or dreaming about Jesus and feeling led to Christianity as a result. Because of that, the team marketed media content toward people who may have dreamed of a man in white or a man in sandals, or who had similar dreams or visions.
“Omar contacted us and said, ‘I am him! I’m the one who’s had a dream or vision of Jesus!’” Eugene says. The team met with Omar and found out he had been seeking to know God better but did not know where to start. Through subsequent meetings with Eugene’s teammates, Omar is now studying the Bible and learning more about Jesus every day.
Seeking More Seekers
Not only have Bosnians learned more about Christ as a result of this team’s work, but word is spreading to neighboring places as well. Someone from an organization called Croatia for Christ heard about their strategy, and Christians there are now learning how to use the Media to Disciple Making Movements strategy to reach out to their communities. Bosnia is strategically located and connected to parts of Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and the Middle East; the potential for growth to other parts of the world is huge.
What about David and Petar? Eugene reports that their friendship has lapsed. When Eugene returned to the United States for a few months to raise support, they simply drifted apart. God might possibly use the seeds planted in the pair, but Eugene has no way of knowing.
Regardless of this, Eugene and his teammates plan to continue to use innovative strategies to find spiritually sensitive people through their media campaign and Disciple Making Movement strategies.
* All names have been changed, but the stories are true.
Laura McKillip Wood, former missionary to Ukraine, now serves as the registrar at Nebraska Christian College in Papillion, Nebraska, and works as an on-call chaplain at a nearby hospital. She and her husband, Andrew, have three teenagers.