High-impact internet ministry

How can we use the Internet to do the work that Jesus has called us to do in evangelizing the world?

Daniel Jiao, DMin, is executive secretary, Chinese Union Mission, Hong Kong, People’s Republic of China.

Before His ascension, Jesus told the disciples, “ ‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’ ” (Acts 1:8, NIV). Although they knew the gospel would go to the ends of the earth, they probably had no idea how God was going to accomplish the goal through them. The congregation in Jerusalem, at the time of Jesus’ ascension, numbered only 120 (Acts 1:15). The disciples knew that it was impossible for their small number to reach the world, but they also knew that Jesus’ instruction was not to depend on themselves but to wait for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. They did, and the world has never been the same since.

Indeed, the good news of Jesus Christ has reached far and wide. According to Global Christianity, “A comprehensive demographic study of more than 200 countries finds that there are 2.18 billion Christians of all ages around the world.” 1

This does not mean that the work is finished. The world population now exceeds seven billion; the number of Christians comprises only about a third of that number. Although this amount has increased four times in the last 100 years, because of the increase of the world population, “Christians make up about the same portion of the world’s population today (32%) as they did a century ago (35%).” 2

How then, can we as a people, do the work that Jesus has called us to do in evangelizing the world?

One answer, interestingly enough, can be through the Internet.

A wired planet

The world has become interconnected, and everyday more and more people are plugged in and online. A recent survey by Faith Community Today on congregations and their use of Internet technologies reported that there is a “direct correlation between adoption of technology and vital, growing congregations.” 3

One of the challenges with using the Internet to share the gospel is that many church leaders do not have enough knowledge about Internet technology, and therefore have no idea where to start. Although the youth in church are attracted to the Internet, they spend a lot of time in social networking, online chatting, and watching videos. But this situation usually changes when churches begin using the Internet to reach people. Church leaders need to teach the youth to use the Internet to share the gospel.

Exactly what can your church do to get members involved in internet ministry?

First and foremost, they need to understand that this work can be done only through the power of the Holy Spirit. When disciples gathered at the upper room, they prayed earnestly for the Holy Spirit to come because Jesus told them specifically, “ ‘But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth’ ” (Acts 1:8, NIV). The requirement of the gospel going to the ends of the earth was that they would receive power from the Holy Spirit. They waited patiently until their differences were resolved. Ellen White says, “These days of preparation were days of deep heart searching. The disciples felt their spiritual need and cried to the Lord for the holy unction that was to fit them for the work of soul saving. They did not ask for a blessing for themselves merely. They were weighted with the burden of the salvation of souls. They realized that the gospel was to be carried to the world, and they claimed the power that Christ had promised.” 4 Once they were filled with the Holy Spirit, their words cut to people’s hearts and about three thousand were added to their number that day” (Acts 2:41, NIV).

Secondly, you must pray for the Holy Spirit to prepare people’s hearts. In the Bible, the Holy Spirit was the One adding numbers to the early church, and He also came upon not only the disciples, but also all of the people who listened to the disciples’ preaching that day. The Bible says, “When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language” (v. 6, NIV). How was it possible that everyone heard in his or her own language? The Spirit came upon them and moved their hearts to make decisions. Your daily prayer should be to ask the Holy Spirit to lead you to make contact with people whose hearts are ready, no matter if they are in front of you or thousands of miles away behind a computer screen.

Thirdly, you should educate your members about the right use of the Internet. It can quickly become a tool Satan uses to lure people of all ages to sin. As young people spend more and more time on the Internet, your church should hold regular training to introduce members to practical tools and methods for reaching people through the Internet.

Practical tips

Here are some practical suggestions as you make plans:

1. Establish an Internet ministry in your local church and recruit an Internet Ministry (IM) Coordinator.

2. Be supportive of your local IM Coordinator as he or she develops a creative Web site.

3. Encourage and assist your IM Coordinator to attend Internet evangelism training sessions.

4. Assist in the establishment of Internet ministry service teams that can provide online answers for questions, inquires, and letters from the Internet.

At one of the churches where I worked, we put a short video, Do Not Be Afraid, on one of the wellknown video-on-demand sites as a test project. Much to our happy surprise, in three weeks about 360,000 people came to the site to watch it. God opened our eyes to see that this is a large harvest field. Without high investment, a simple studio was built in that church, and the programs produced were uploaded to the Internet. The church’s young people put together a dedicated video on demand site to link together all of the videos.

By the end of that year, 20 million people viewed their videos.

Start recording your Sabbath sermons, upload them on your church Web site, and recruit youth to do video recording and editing. Start an Internet radio at your church and invite members to offer their time and talent to make radio programs. Organize field trips to other churches that already have vibrant Internet and Web ministries. 

Conclusion

Ellen White says, “Christ’s work when upon earth appeared to be confined to a narrow field, but multitudes from all lands heard His message. God often uses the simplest means to accomplish the greatest results. It is His plan that every part of His work shall depend on every other part, as a wheel within a wheel, all acting in harmony. The humblest worker, moved by the Holy Spirit, will touch invisible chords, whose vibrations will ring to the ends of the earth, and make melody through eternal ages.” 5

God desires that every member of Christ’s body participate in His mission. The work of saving the lost should be the focus of the entire membership, not just the pastoral team. In the early church, God “added to their number daily those who were being saved” (v. 47, NIV). This growth was the result of involvement of every member of that congregation. With the advent of the Internet, church members, in one way or another, can get involved in reaching the world’s unreached for Christ.

The possibilities are endless, and the impact can be global.

References:

1 Global Christianity, “A Report on the Size and Distribution of the World’s Christian Population,” www.pewforum.org/Christian/Global-Christianity -exec.aspx. Retrieved July 6, 2012.

2 Ibid.

3 “Report on Congregations and Their Use of Internet Technologies.” http:// faithcommunitiestoday.org/report-congregations-and-their-use-internet -technologies. Retrieved March 14, 2012.

4 Ellen G. White, The Acts of the Apostles (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1911), 37.

5 Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1940), 822.

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Daniel Jiao, DMin, is executive secretary, Chinese Union Mission, Hong Kong, People’s Republic of China.

February 2013

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