Internet and Evangelism Part 1: The Internet is a Mission Field
I want you to picture the internet not as a place where you go to watch Youtube clips and play Farmville. I want you to picture the internet not as a place where you check the football scores, book airplane tickets or Google the answers to pub trivia questions. I want you to forget about how you use the internet as a tool in your day to day life.
Instead, I want you to think of the internet as a country. A country with billions of citizens who have their own culture, language, customs and currency. A country where people spend their waking hours interacting with each other, sometimes in strange and unusual ways. If you think of the internet as a country, the next logical step is to think of the internet as a mission field – a place where the opportunities to reach previously unreached people with the gospel of Jesus are rampant.
The internet is a mission field. And if you’re reading this, it’s a mission field that you already have access to. There are some countries in the world that won’t let you through the door because you want to tell people about Jesus. There are some countries you can’t get to because the expense of getting there and living there is beyond you. But the internet is a country where you already live. You know the culture and you know the language. So how are you going to approach your mission field?
The internet has:
- Over 1.73 billion users
- Over 234 million websites
- Over 126 million blogs
- More than 27.3 million tweets sent each day
- 37.4 trillion Facebook page views a year
- Over 400 million people signed up on Facebook
- More than 12.2 videos viewed on Youtube per month
But unfortunately, I think our tendency as Christians has been to keep the internet at arm’s length. This was made clear to me when I discovered Formspring. Formspring is a website where people can send you questions anonymously and you can post the answers on your page for all to see. I first came across this site when I saw comic book professionals that I followed on Twitter using Formspring to interact with fans. My mind automatically started thinking how this could be used for ministry. And I wanted to see what other Christians were doing with this site and the issues that might come from using it. So I asked around. I emailed Christian contacts I had who interacted with the internet, guys both here in Australia and overseas. The answer I got? “What is Formspring?” If anyone had thought through Formspring, they either hadn’t discussed it online or they made it very hard to find.
There are so many opportunities to use the internet, to reach out to people through the internet, to encourage each other through the internet. And I think we are wasting this potential. This is a mission field that we are only just starting to think about. We need to catch up. We need to think through these issues now. Christians have traditionally been on the forefront of media change. We pioneered the printing press bandwagon. We were quick to jump on board with radio and TV. But when it comes to the internet we are lagging behind. That is not acceptable.
Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. (1 Peter 2:11-12)
If you’re like me, you live on the internet. I have many friends who I have only ever spoken to online. I check my email and my Facebook regularly. This is my world. I live in the flesh and blood world. And I live in the online world. But most of all, I’m a citizen of heaven. I am an alien and stranger in the online world. Yet I am commanded to live a godly life online and bring glory to God. If you live online like I do, then you are commanded to do the same.
How are you using your online life to bring glory to God?