Ignite Spring 2017 – A New Direction in Outreach: LCMA Partner LHM Introduces THRED
For several years, St. Louis-based Lutheran Hour Ministries (LHM) has partnered with the Lutheran Campus Mission Association in offering outreach training for college students and servant-outreach opportunities in international settings. In February this year LHM launched an innovative evangelism vehicle they’ve called THRED.
What is THRED? It’s a digital platform designed to reach people who use digital media as a primary way to communicate and stay connected to the world and each other. THRED’s initial focus has been its Facebook page, which has served as a virtual gathering place for individuals interested in discussing topics of life and faith.
This is the essence of THRED, which takes its name (it’s not an acronym) from the concept of the discussion thread, a common feature on forums, blogs, and of course Facebook itself. Unlike some discussion environments, however, THRED is designed specifically to be a safe place to discuss and even disagree; trolling is not permitted. What this has resulted in are conversations that are characterized by their diversity and depth of thought rather than by intrusions by participants bent on intimidation or disruption (or just plain mayhem).
Early topics have included science and faith, stewardship and the environment, relationships and marriage, church and state, parenting, community, suicide, mental illness, and the words of Jesus. In fact, it was the words of Jesus about heaven in the February 9 “THRED Dialogues” video that resulted in one of the most lively responses during the ministry’s first month. The video received more than 67 thousand views and evoked a 76-comment conversation (plus 202 shares). (Photo: THRED Dialogues video: “What Did Jesus Say About Heaven?”)
THRED is unapologetically Christian in its point of view, and this is the beauty of the ministry. By building relationships with the people who come just to share ideas, THRED can offer the Gospel in conversation—a deep, rich expression of it—to people who are tuned to hear it and resonate to the Holy Spirit’s work. No fire and brimstone. No shouting.
THRED is built to do more than just start conversations and relationships. For those who want an even deeper discussion about issues of life and faith, THRED has a path that can take the interested participant into an online one-on-one email conversation with a Christian THRED volunteer, and, ultimately, to connection with a flesh-and-blood faith community. And this is where there will be opportunities in the coming months for committed Christ-followers—including young adults. As the number of people desiring deeper conversations about life and faith grows, THRED will need volunteers who can respond with openness and compassion; and THRED will offer training and orientation so each volunteer can respond with confidence. Stay tuned for more information about this unique outreach opportunity.
Want to read the whole Spring 2017 issue of Ignite? Click here!