The world wide web (Internet) facilitates getting timely, relevant and practical information to believers and can be used to reach non-believers for Christ. As servants of Christ, we are commissioned to minister to believers and reach the un-saved. Hence, our core mission is preaching, teaching, and baptizing souls (Matthew 28:19-20) per the Master's directive.
In today's world, we cannot rely exclusively on the methods of ministering to people that have been used over the ages. Christ's success in ministering to the people was strengthened in that he communicated with the people using icons from their environment and from their day to day experiences. The people of his day existed as farmers, shepherds, etc. sustaining their livelihood in an agrarian outdoor setting. Thus much of Christ's dialogue and monologue were colored to this type of setting.
Today, however, we exist in what is known as the age of technology and information age. We must adapt to the environment in which we live if we are to effectively reach people for Christ. It has been said that the Word of God must be within reach of its hearers. This is best achieved when it is packaged and presented as relevant, practical and accurate in its interpretation.
It behooves us, then, to use the tools of technology to facilitate this process. As purveyors of the message of salvation and hope, it is our Christian duty to also educate and inform the people using the technology which God has blessed mankind to develop. I recognize that many refuse to become computer literate with the excuse, "the computer is Satan" device to deceive God's people! Clearly this is a flawed argument. If this was the case, the phone, TV, radio, entertainment centers, cell phone, VCRs, cam-corders and many others which many quickly dismiss as necessary and more "user-friendly" would also have to be categorized as Satan's "devices of deception."
The use of computers and the potential of the World Wide Web using e-mail and computers as a vehicle to facilitate ministering to God's people can easily be taught, learned and applied as a ministry tool.
Computer application programs such as E-mail, a web-site ministry, Word, PowerPoint and spreadsheets, and many others can be conveniently used as communication tools of the church's ministries, i.e., Sunday school lessons, Vacation Bible School, Bible Study, worship in music, key points of an expository sermon and teaching and equipping workers for ministry and evangelism in the community.
Unfortunately, many of our African-American brothers and sisters are slow to catch on to new technology.
So, let those of us who are "believers" in the technology educate, enlighten, and elucidate to the "non-believers in technology " the value and vitality of today's tools of technology.
Further, this is a wake up call for those of us who are "in the know" to persuade "unbelievers" using Biblical and practical teaching methods of computers to reach Generation X people in school and college and many of the Baby Boomers who are no strangers to the technology in their everyday workplaces. It is a standard today for our children to be taught in many of their classes using computers.
One of the reasons Christ effectively communicated and was successful in reaching people is because of His preaching and teaching methods. We know him as the "Master Teacher." He used the "parables" so powerfully.
The Bible teaches us that Jesus taught the people as one who had authority (Matthew 7:29). Also, that He taught the people in parables (e.g., Matthew 13; Mark 4; Luke 11, etc) and many believed, were saved, healed and followed Jesus as a result of Jesus' relevant, practical and accurate teaching and preaching. Jesus spoke in the "language" and "experiences" of the people and that made all the difference.
The language and experiences of many in 2000 involved computer and other audiovisual technology. Many people who experience God's Holy Word presented using the tools and icons from their day to day experiences will quickly grasp, come to grips with, and give their lives to Jesus. Others who already have given their lives to Jesus and are committed to grow in grace can be greatly inspired and encouraged toward more effective discipleship whenever the technology tools are used to facilitate "making plain" the Word.
Recall from the Bible that the scribes, Pharisees and other critics of Jesus were still living in the useless and antiquated methods of the law when Jesus arrived on the scene and taught the people with authority and power.
These outdated "teachers of the law" were out of touch with the people whom Jesus often quickly reached.
So let those of us who believe and know that this technology is an excellent means to facilitate "saving" many give praise to the Lord for enabling man to develop modern methods to help strengthen people in the Word to and enable them to win the war against Satan.
Praise the Lord Jesus Christ for His vision for the people to develop tools to facilitate His Holy Word with authority and power!
Having made my earlier statements extolling the advantages of computers and other technology tools, I must also state that the tools of electronic technology must never replace the one-on one dynamics of personal witness, discipleship and pastoral counsel.
The most pre-eminent media of preaching is the occasion of preaching the Good News across our pulpits. The Lord's imperative to every pastor and preacher is clear: in Paul's words to Timothy, "Preach the Word of God in season and out of season."
Jesus also triple underscored the urgency of His charge to us as preacher/pastors on the occasion of asking Peter, "Do you love me? FEED MY SHEEP! Peter do you really love me? Feed my sheep; Peter do you really love me--feed my lambs."
The electronic technology God has enabled man to develop is only a tool, NOT AN END IN ITSELF!!
But, a tool is of no value until it is utilized. Computer technology is a viable tool to reach people as the demographics of today's people have changed from years ago.
I encourage you to utilize the technology alongside the tradition of our pulpits, church schools, and Corporate worship at 11:00 Sunday mornings.
Jesus was effective in reaching people because he used the human dynamic of compassion to meet their human and spiritual needs. So must we! And we can facilitate our communicating the compassion of God's Word using many of the computer communication tools
May our Savior's blessings shower you throughout 2001 as you preach and teach the Gospel effectively and powerfully and win souls for Jesus!
Rev. Jerome Council is an evangelist and head of Light of Our Savior Ministries in Salt Lake City, UT. He is the retired pastor of True Vine Baptist Church, former Moderator and Congress President, Intermountain General Baptist Convention of Utah, Wyoming and Idaho. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and are used by permission. Email Rev. Council at PastorC@Clergy.net or visit him at Light of Our Savior Ministries.