The Calgary Herald
February 6, 2010
Internet users -- especially younger ones -- are invited to join
Soul Chat, a conversation about spirituality.
The website, www.soulchat.ca, is the
brainchild of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Its goal
is to engage a younger generation in spiritual discussion -- a
generation brought up with the Internet and other social
"It's a fairly new tool that our organization developed as a way
to get into the Internet world and have spiritual conversations
with people in that kind of a setting," says Dave Ingram, project
manager for the association in Calgary.
"We all know that the Internet has become really the go-to
source for information, especially for the younger generation.
Really, for the 40-probably-and-down generation. If people want
information, they go to the Internet.
"We were realizing that, as a Christian organization,
information about Christianity or even opportunities to engage
people in spiritual conversation was happening on the Internet and
we weren't a part of that whole discussion. So we wanted to get
into that. We wanted to really start to make use of that as a
medium of communication to hopefully engage people, but in a pretty
soft-touch kind of way.
"It was not meant at all to be in-your-face, pushy type of
evangelism, but just as a place to engage people in spiritual
conversation and enable Christianity to be a part of that
The new website is packed with articles, videos, and blogs
designed for people interested in exploring faith. It invites
people to participate by commenting on the content or e-mailing the
association with questions, concerns, thoughts, or needs.
The idea is to gently introduce the basic tenets of Christianity
to people who want to know more about the faith, but aren't yet
comfortable enough to attend a church or have a face-to-face
conversation with a Christian, adds Ingram.
Ingram says some people may be interested in Christianity, but
are confused by stereotypes or misinformation in the media. Soul
Chat aims to clear up that confusion, he says.
A television commercial created by students at Mount Royal
University will be airing this month on Shaw TV and Access TV.
The hope of the television campaign is to drive people to the
Pastor Steve Grove, of the Louise Street Community Church of the
Nazarene in Saskatoon, says the challenge of Soul Chat is to get
people talking about spiritual issues.
"For me, the benefit is that it helps people have a place and to
feel more comfortable to talk about spiritual things. As a pastor,
I'm going to always support that," he says, adding it's a way to
connect with a younger generation.
The church in some ways, he says, has failed to embrace that
generation. How do churches talk to this generation, a generation
that has been raised on video games, a generation that has been
raised with the social networking explosion, he asks.
Ingram hopes the Soul Chat website will be a vehicle for
"We hope to cover topics like faith. What is faith? How is faith
important to people in the world we live in today? What about the
meaning of life? Why are we here? What are we doing? How do we make
sense of the world we live in today? We hope to hit topics that are
of current interest."
"Certainly it's not perfect, and we're learning as we go along,"
says Ingram of Soul Chat.
"We designed the website last fall as a result of comments from
people that it really was not connecting. It was too verbal. Too
much focus on words and not enough visuals.
"So we tried to redesign it and have gotten a lot of positive
comments on that. We're learning as we go along and trying to make
it something that's as user-friendly as possible."
Soul Chat is being promoted in Vancouver during the Olympics.
Thousands of Soul Chat "touch cards" are being distributed, along
with other Christian material, through an inter-denominational
campaign called More Than Gold ( www.morethangold.ca).
Soul Chat was promoted through a series of prime-time TV
commercials in the Saskatoon area during November. As part of that
campaign, dozens of Saskatoon churches received training and became
Soul Chat churches. They are listed on the soulchat.ca website as
partners where people can go for face-to-face conversations. Also
on the website's home page are links to the three TV
The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association of Canada