THE INTERNET AND THE CHURCH
by Charles Robey
(Trussville AL USA)
Is There An App For John 3:16?
Is your church taking advantage of the Internet? If not, why not? Yes, the Internet is here to stay, for Christians as well as non-Christians (Daniel 12:4). So, why not take it away from Satan (Ephesians 6:12)?
According to a "Barna Group" survey, forty-eight percent of adult Christians have home Internet access. And four-fifths of all Protestant Senior Pastors have access to the Internet. Churches too are getting on line, as one out of every three Protestant churches in the US has a web site.
The "Barna" group has also predicted that by the end of the present decade, 50 million will seek to have their spiritual experience solely through the Internet, rather than church. And upwards of 100 million Americans will rely upon the Internet to deliver some aspects of their religious experiences.
Barna also predicted that the popularity of the Internet will change the very nature of how many people view church. With these stats in mind, the church defiantly has a future challenge. A challenge that may just bump heads with end-time prophecy (2 Timothy 3:1-7, 3).
A word of caution, however, don't let the Internet take the place of church attendance (Hebrews 10:25). Some feel the easy access of the home Internet, may tend to draw people of faith away from the church.
Although, Barna's projections may be a cause for concern, there is not yet enough evidence to indicate that there will be a mass exodus from physical churches to the cyber church. According to Barna's own research, less than one percent of all adults and just two percent of teenagers currently use the Internet as a substitute for actually going to a physical church.
According to the Pew study, Religious Surfers are still strongly committed to traditional spiritual practices: Instead of viewing the Internet as a replacement for church, Religious Surfers appear to perceive the Internet as "a useful supplemental tool that enhances their already-deep commitment to their beliefs.
So, how may the church use the Internet to reach out to the masses? Some tips: First, design a good modern attractive website. Then place the website address on all church written communication such as church bulletins, pastor's correspondence, pastor's business cards, stationary, envelopes, door hangers, statements of faith, pew visitor cards, etc. In addition, request email addresses, on the church visitor cards. And lastly, always keep the website current, with all church activity.
You see, with today's technology and the ability to travel in cyberspace, the door is wide open for Christians to go anywhere in the world, without leaving their own home or church. We can minister, explore, research, and even share the gospel message with millions as a result of the availability of telecommunications.
So, our Lord was right on target, when He gave us the "Great Commission" (Matthew 28:19-20), and when He provided the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). Yes, 2000 years ago, our Lord was just as up-to-date, as he was, and is, and is to come (Revelation 1:8). Now, go to work (Matthew 9:37).
Author's Post Script
We must realize that computer technology is here to stay, retreating from it seems neither to be required nor appropriate. So, the time is now right for the church of Jesus Christ to lay claim to this new medium, for the sake of the gospel.
However, we Christians should avoid the extremes of "digital utopia " and "digital apocalypse " when it comes to this new technology. A good balance is the key (1 Cor 10:31). It should never take the place of our prayer life (Philippians 4:6), our Bible study (2 Timothy 3:16-17), nor our witnessing(1 Peter 3:15).