Could it work?

The medium and the people

It sounds like the evangelist's dream come true. With 513.41 million online1 from almost every tribe and nation the gospel can finally be declared to the four corners of the earth. Is the internet the most powerful medium for conveying the gospel that has ever been dreamt of, or is it tele-evangelism all over again?

I can begin to understand how the tele-evangelists must have felt when television came out (and radio before that)—how amazing it must have been to be able to broadcast truth to so many. But I have never felt so embarassed as I did while sitting at Sydney airport waiting for a flight to Tasmania at 5 a.m.: grimacing at one hour of tele-evangelists perverting the gospel that saved me and making ridiculous the Lord who bought me.

The internet promises to be different and promises to be the same. No doubt, the same kinds of people who managed to get on the TV will be using the internet in cheesy ways. But you don't need a lot of money to slap up a website. In fact, in this medium, everyone is a publisher. The Net is the most anti-hierarchical communications medium ever devised. It facilitates the free flow of information, often to the detriment of institutions more interested in stifling that flow..." 2 So true and untrue claims about God will perennially be mixed in together.

But say someone did find the true claims of Jesus Christ, did stumble across the truth about God. Would they really accept the gospel online? Could someone find salvation on the web? Well, it's not ours to know whether someone has truly been saved or not, and it will be especially difficult to discern where there is no face to face communication but the indications are that it is happening:

“My life has changed dramatically. You made me realize how negative and self-destructive I had become. I have returned to Jesus. I want to say that the ‘Power to Change’ website has influenced my life more than you can possibly imagine.”

“Hello. I have prayed the prayer to ask God to direct my life. I look forward to receiving your booklet to help me grow effectively in Christ.” (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)

“I have been following the lessons with keen interest and it has shown me my relationship with our Lord Jesus. I wish to further follow the lessons so that I can improve upon my spiritual being. Let me inform you that the lessons are of immense importance to me. They have enabled me to know my God and this has urged me to join a church. (Ghana)”

“I want to know more about Jesus Christ. I want to learn things from him.” (Malaysia)

“I prayed this prayer with all my heart. I felt finally full. I believe the thing I have been missing with all these years is filling my heart with the Holy Spirit. Thank you!”

“I have prayed the prayer to ask God to direct my life. I look forward to receiving your booklet to help me grow effectively in Christ.” (Malaysia)

Testimonies from the Campus Crusade for Christ website (Canada)
http://www.iamnext.com/ministry/brent/you.html

Footnotes

1 According to the NUA survey: http://www.nua.ie/surveys/how_many_online/

2 Careaga, Andrew. Embracing the Cyberchurch http://www.next-wave.org/dec99/embracing_the_cyberchurch.htm

Ben

What should Christians make of this new tool, this new mission field? Will it unavoidably lead to a virtual church? First we'll look at what kind of evangelism is taking place: Finding God Online.

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