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Why Web Ministry
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Today the internet affects everyone across the world. Especially in those countries that have readily available internet access.
10 facts about the enormous impact and size of the internet:
- Google's advertising revenue is bigger than that of the entire U.S. print industry.
- Amazon's annual revenue is greater than half of the world's GDPS.
- Apple has cash reserves that are greater than the US treasury.
- 1.2 billion have it on their mobile phones.
- Pingdom predicts that Facebook will be larger than China by 2016.
- More people have a mobile subscription service than have access to safe drinking water and electricity in our world today.
- Have you watched a reality show on TV lately, Twitter has more marketing appeal and impact than many commercials.
- YouTube has more views than any cable network.
- Google+ has over a billion followers.
- Instagram has 100 million active users.
WOW! That is enormous and with that many people comes the opportunity to create a unique mission field. The Internet has brought different communities and groups together on the Web, overcoming time, space, and cultural barriers.
Today a church or ministry not having even a simple website is similar to not being in the yellow pages years ago. The first place people search now for information or organizations is the internet.
The average person spends more time on Social Media today than any other activity. A 2012 comScore reports that of the amount of time people spend online, 18% is spent on social media.
The average time spent with digital media per day will surpass TV viewing time for the first time this year, according to eMarketer’s latest estimate of media consumption among US adults.
The average adult will spend over 5 hours per day online, on non-voice mobile activities or with other digital media this year,” eMarketer estimates, “compared to 4 hours and 31 minutes watching television. Daily TV time will actually be down slightly this year, while digital media consumption will be up 15.8%.
The most significant growth area is on mobile. Adults will spend an average of 2 hours and 21 minutes per day on non-voice mobile activities, including mobile internet usage on phones and tablets—longer than they will spend online on desktop and laptop computers and nearly an hour more than they spent on mobile last year. - eMarketer - August 2013
According to new research released by Ipsos Open Thinking Exchange (OTX); factoring in survey respondents who don’t use social networks, the survey finds that the average online American spends 2 hours a day social networking from a computer, tablet and/or mobile phone. Unsurprisingly, American social networkers aged 18-34 self-report spending more time than their older counterparts, and women outpace men in consumption, also.
Specifically, among American social network users:
- 18-34-year-olds report spending 3.8 hours a day.
- 35-49-year-olds report spending 3 hours per day.
- 50-64-year-olds report spending 2.4 hours per day.
Social Media is a global phenomenon. Around the world, more than 1.2 billion people use social media or social network sites, accounting for 82% of the world’s online population. The digital media landscape has changed immensely, influenced by social media and social network sites, which have transformed the way people work, govern, communicate and live. Although this has created immense opportunity, it has also created disruption. - World Economic Forum
While this quote references the impact the internet has on governments, foreign matters and financial markets; it can also lead to other disruptions on a more personal level. The internet is a great tool for personal connections, reuniting old friends, bringing together family members, making new friends and bringing the body of Christ together from all over the globe. It is also a good place to get lost, to hide, to disconnect, to become isolated and to live a life or present a side of you that others may never need to know.
Yet, instead of more churches and ministries seeking better ways to reach those on the internet, they seem to discover new reasons for why they are not engaging with the individuals making up those statistics.
For many people, the issue is fear of the unknown and the dark side of the Internet. We often hear of an Internet filled with pornography, hate groups, computer viruses, spam, and scams. But this is all the more reason for every church to have a website. Jesus hung out with those who sinned and who did not believe. Each church should be where the needy people are found. We want our web ministry to be right in the midst of the sin-filled websites that we hear about. - ministrymatters - June 2011
One of the more common reasons we often hear, is a similar story and situation that John Wesley faced and heard. We hear that the web keeps people away from Church. While there are many churches that seemingly have gone to the extreme of offering online baptisms and full church services with chat boxes for connection, this does not negate the reality that there is a real mission field called social media.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” - [Acts 1: 8 (NASB)]
In this verse, Jesus defines the perimeter of the ministry, starting from Jerusalem, all of Judea, to the remotest part of the earth. According to F.F. Bruce, these geographical landmarks work as a table of contents of the Acts. According to Chokmah Commentary, all the locations mentioned in the verse exhibit the Gospel‘s itinerary, departing from Jerusalem (verses 1–7), moving on to all Judea and Samaria (Acts 8:1 to 11:18), and eventually spreading all over the world (Acts 11:19 to 28:31).
How can we apply this verse in our time? The Internet in our era is the bridge connecting information, people, and cultures from various parts of the earth. Nearly every country (except a few underdeveloped countries) has been reached by the Internet, and cyberspace has become a strategically important location that the church ministry should not ignore any further.
The Last Frontier
It is estimated that 2.6 billion of the world’s population is connected and there are significant efforts being made to connect everyone. It is the last frontier where Christians should fulfill their evangelical mission as God‘s witnesses.
The internet frontier can be traced back to Mark 16:15 if we interpret the part where God ordered the entire world and (preach the gospel) to all creation in our context. This online space is the end of the world and has now become more of all the world, leaving us no excuse in fulfilling the Lord‘s Great Commission in cyberspace (Acts 1:8).
The phrase "the remotest part of the earth," which means more than the literal patch of earth at edge of the earth, can be understood as the virtual world in our time. To anyone believing in the governance of God‘s rule in every piece of land inhabited by human beings, refuting the idea of cyberspace being reached and cared for by churches and becoming the major venue of church ministry would be impossible.
Original Church Planter
The original church planter and missionary would not have ignored the facts given, statistics proven or failed to see the immense hurt and pain that is exhibited through these numbers. As Christians have since the beginning of the early church, we need to constantly be looking at the best, most efficient methods and fastest ways to get the gospel of grace out.
Just as Paul did not insist or use the excuse that ministry should only be done through one-on-one, face-to-face connections, so must we also adopt the same and better tools to build the Father's Kingdom, the same way Paul sent his letters by courier.
The history of the church is filled not only with those who decried new methods of reaching others but also is filled with the stories of those who used those new methods to reach others with the gospel of grace.
Yet as mentioned there are many disruptions, many ways to put on the loin clothes as Adam and Eve did and hide through the internet. It is easy to escape from the drudgery, pain of everyday living and life on the internet, as well as to create a pseudo life and another reality for oneself.
The false freedom one supposedly enjoys on the internet only serves to prove the reality that even as believers we are bent on serving and living according to the desires of this world while we are enslaved to serve the one who rules this world, thus the truth of Ephesians 2:1-3.
Discussing the numbers, statistics, evil, disconnect, issues of doing internet ministry and doing nothing more, does not deal with the issues or the pain. The pain is real, the disconnect is an issue, the false personas only lead to more confusion, more pain and greater enslavement.
This is WHY INTERNET MINISTRY and why World Prayr calls social media its mission field.
Here is NOT our plan:
- To take away from the local church, rather it is to come alongside it and help it. Check out our "Strengthening The Local" page and other parts of our website to see how much we believe this. Of course no matter how hard we work at this, there will always be those who say all para-church ministries take away from the local churches work.
- To be a church, we are not!
- To be a burden to churches or ministries by asking for help, funds or support from them.
- To add to the mess of messages that we see so much on the web. Whether those messages be health, wealth and happiness or behavior modification and obedience training.
Here is what IS part of our plan:
- To bring the gospel of grace to an international audience.
- To continue building the body of Christ through mentoring and discipleship, whether that be internally within the team or externally to those we are seeking to reach with the truth that the gospel of grace is more for those in the family than not.
- As a result of the efforts from one and two we will work to accomplish his purposes, glorify HIM and build his Kingdom.
- We work to build other ministries as we honor the truth of Philippians 2:4 and Romans 12:10. Check out our "We Support" page
- To work with those churches God opens the doors with, to help them build their online ministries. Check out our "Strengthening The Local"
- We will share the burdens of others by praying for them and offering them encouragement.
- We will work to deal with the pain and the disconnect we see on a daily basis by helping those who are without local bodies of support, find, connect and become a part of local loving families.
- We move forward to always be less concerned with the numbers and more concerned with the relationships God blesses us with and allows us to encounter. Though we may fail, we will always make this a priority.
- Through the efforts of numbers four, five, six and seven we will deal with the pain and the disconnect that exists in the body of Christ in this mission field called Social Media.
That is why World Prayr family exists, serves, works and seeks to do more than just discuss the problems, talk of the evil of the internet or ignore it. Rather instead working in an arena and field many still do not know how to do more than condemn those whose efforts are similar to ours, much like those who condemned John Wesley.
Then the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled. – Luke 14:23
Too often Christians have responded to changes in society, such as new ways of traveling and new ways of communicating by pulling back and expecting people to come to us and to hear our message our way. John Wesley was condemned for preaching outside of the walls of a church, yet he chose to go where the people were and speak to them. The leadership of World Prayr sees that people are now gathering on the various social media sites, and they have heard Jesus’s command to “go out into the roads and lanes’ only the roads and lanes are now Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. This is the new face of evangelism—proclaiming the good news and making disciples—in the 21st century.
We would love to have you join us. You can do so by filling out the form on our "Serve At World Prayr" page.