It is an understatement to say that the internet has changed the world. The field of education and now church life are only two areas of our society that are experiencing drastic changes due to the internet.
Every university in the country now offers on-line courses, and these courses include “discussion boards” where students interact and discuss things with each other. This type of education is a two-way learning experience; not simply watching an on-line lecture. I was surprised to hear recent survey results showing how many students significantly benefit from these “on line” discussions more than “live-in-person” discussions. Why? There are many reasons, but one is that the more timid and introverted students participate in the on-line discussions and the extroverted students don’t dominate the discussions.
The internet is also impacting church life. A new breed of churches are going beyond live- streaming (broadcasting) their worship services to include opportunities for the internet worshipers to ask questions, request prayer, and receive personal ministry. (I’ve heard soul- stirring stories of that happening here in Middle District.) Interestingly, some churches are also having small group Bible studies on-line. Again, not just re-showing the sermon, but having a presentation with the students asking questions, praying for each other, and some even coming to faith in Christ.
Recently an innovative friend who has consulted with many denominations regarding church planting, including Virginia Baptists, has contacted me about Middle District participating in an church planting experiment to train individuals how to use the internet to reach people (like you do on Facebook) and then to leverage that into on-line Bible studies that eventually lead to people meeting for fellowship and worship.
I fully realize that for most people reading this blog, using this method to reach people for Christ sounds like a far-fetched pipe dream. I don’t think so. The internet is changing the world too fast, too much to automatically discount the potential of this type of outreach. After all, we serve a God who can surprise us. Isn’t that what the message of Easter is all about? The apostle Paul told his friends in Rome:
This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike “What’s next, Papa?” (Romans 8:15 The Message)
This Easter season, join me in prayer that God might raise up some “What’s next, Papa” kind of people who will venture out into untested waters for the purpose of reaching those who will not be in any church this Easter but who will be surfing the internet.