The 21st century advancement has opened up the whole earth for the 21st century Church to take it over. World evangelism has never been this easy. Technology has blessed the Church and is still a blessing to the Church more than any body or organization on earth. Though it has come with it own challenges, the advantages far outweigh the seeming challenges.
Hear what Pastor Warren at a church ministry conference said:
Every time there is an advance in technology, The Kingdom advances. … Technology has a huge impact on our mission … not the ‘what’ of our mission, but the ‘how’. … Technology is the frontline of evangelism. (Nicholau 2010)
You should know that the Church has been in the forefront using technology throughout Church history. The early Church used papyrus and later printing machine, piano, organ, lighting, microphones, guitars, drums, and video projectors etc. The coming of the internet has brought us other technologies like websites, social media and networking in the likes of Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp, snapchat etc.
Information and communication technology (ICT) is an umbrella term that includes any communication device or application, encompassing radio, television, cellular phones, computer and network, hardware and software, satellite systems and so on, as well as the various services and applications associated with them such as videoconferencing and distance learning – Ngozi Blessing Ossai-Ugbah
Information technology today will help the Church more than anything else to connect more effectively with their congregation. The younger generation world over speak ‘computer language’ and use IT devices in their daily routines, career and businesses. To reach them, Churches and Christian leaders must use their language and enter their world if they must reach them with the message of Christ.
The New Testament is replete with examples of the disciples of Jesus sharing the good news where people spend most of their time. Peter went to preached the gospel in a public place and thousands responded to the gospel. Paul went to preach the gospel at the centre of culture and influence in Greece and influential people responded positively to his message – Acts 17:21-34. All over the world more and more young people are embracing the internet as part of life. They are using the internet to find personal, social, educational and religious information.
Social networking has to become an integral part of pastoral ministry or the church will find itself increasingly not able to reach the youths, the world and invariably not able to fulfill the great commission. The Church should as a matter of urgency embrace technology and make it a tool to reach out to our world. God is behind modern technology, let us not leave it to the devil.
The average youth’s day is spent thus:
- Twitter: 1 to 6hrs
- Face book: 1 to 6hrs
- E-mails: 3 to 10 emails that require response
- Whatsapp and other chatting apps: 5 to 10hrs
- Time: 20 to 25 h online.
- Visitation: 0hr
- Total time spent online daily: 7 to 12hrs
All aspects of our lives is directly affected by the 21st century Information Technology invasion. Our economic, political, social, education communication and other areas of our lives have been directly affected. It’s totally a different world; a techie world and therefore, since the Church is also part of the information community, it is necessary for us to fall in line and take the lead. God believes in technology.
Technology has played a huge role in the spread of Christianity through out Church history. We had the first pews that some still use today, introduced to Churches in the 13th century. The first organ was installed in 1361. Gutenberg invented the printing press in 1943, an invention that revolutionized the spread of the Holy Bible. Microphones, electricity and speakers were all introduced in the 18th to 20th centuries. Radios and TVs were only invented about 100yrs ago. The Church fought seriously against the introduction of the TV technology into the Church back then.
A minister of the gospel can make teaching and preaching easy just by simply providing visual sermon outlines, beaming some aspects of his teachings and preaching like topic, text, sub points, other scriptures, Hebrew or Greek words with their explanations on a projector through a computer. It helps the people to follow, see and internalize the message more. We learn better with our eyes open and internalize easier and faster.
In 2010, Pope Benedict at the 44th World Communications Day, declared the theme to be “The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service of the Word.” The Pope said, “using new communication technologies, priests can introduce people to the life of the church and help our contemporaries to discover the face of Christ.” Pope Benedict also wrote, in his announcement “who better than a priest, as a man of God, can develop and put into practice, by his competence in current digital technology, a pastoral outreach capable of making God concretely present in today’s world and presenting the religious wisdom of the past as a treasure which can inspire our efforts to live in the present with dignity while building a better future”. Pope Benedict XVI advocated the use of communication technology, as “this will not only enliven their pastoral outreach, but also will give a “soul” to the fabric of communications that makes up the “web”.
Take close look at these stats
- It was reported in a survey by Barna Group that 38% of the people surveyed increased their Bible readership last year (2015) by downloading a Bible app or by listening to religious podcasts or streaming worship services.
- From 2011 to date it is recorded that the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association’s internet evangelism ministry has converted at least 5 million people – BGEA
- About 21.5 million adults, in the last 30 days have visited the website of their Church – Grey Matter
- Over 17 million American adults, in the last 12 months who don’t attend church worship services regularly, visited the website of a local church or place of worship – Grey Matter
- Millennials are 6% more likely to own a smartphone than a Bible – Pew Research, Barna Group
- It is reported that 80% of nonprofits say that their website is the most important communications channel for outreach – Kivi’s Nonprofit Communications Blog
Online Giving Stats
- In 2015 alone, $2.2 billion was donated online – Blackbaud
- In 2015, 56% of online giving with an average gift size of $148 was donated on a branded giving page – Blackbaud
- In 2015 alone, 14% of all online donations were made using a mobile device – Blackbaud
Video Viewing Stats
- 89 million people in the U.S alone watch 1.2 billion online videos every day – comScore
- Online video users are expected to double to 1.5 billion in 2016 – Cisco
- Globally, online video traffic will be 55% of all consumer Internet traffic in 2016 – Cisco
- 92% of mobile video viewers share videos with others – Invodo
- 46% of U.S adults say they saw someone online sharing “something that has to do with their faith” on the Internet in the last week – Pew Research Center
These stats has just given us an insight to where people are spending their time and what they’re doing or want. Why not we meet them where they are with the gospel?
Generally, some pastors struggle with the challenges and potentials of modern technologies. This is because most pastors and Christian leaders have been doing their reading and studing offline all their life. However, new technologies have great potential for enhancing the education of pastors and Christian leaders and in transmitting the gospel, reaching more people and preparing great sermons to feed the flock fat.
An astounding mass of material is readily available online. Scholars are busily creating and digitizing resources for christian schools and Churches. We have libraries online today like never before, alot of them are free.
I believe information technology as we have it today is a fulfillment of Bible prophecy and an endtime tool to evangelize the world and fulfill the great commission. The Church of Christ stands to gain more using technology. If we don’t the devil is already using it against us.