A New Era

Centuries ago, the apostle Paul used the technology of his day to communicate the gospel of Jesus. He used the Roman Roads to travel to distant regions of his world. He also used the written word to reach and teach the early church. It is these writings that we now treasure today in the New Testament. Since the time of Paul, the church has utilized each new wave of communication technology. The invention of the Gutenberg printing press meant that Christians no longer needed to rely on hand written scrolls and parchments of God’s Word as they could each have a copy of the scriptures. The modern printing press has allowed books and other printed literature to continue to have wide impact in spreading the gospel to the nations.

Each new communication technology opens up doors allowing us to share the message of God’s love to millions of people who would otherwise never have heard. In the last century, film, radio, television and video have each impacted entire generations and countries. With the advent and rapid expansion of the Internet, we now approach a new era of communications that is already having a wide impact in international missions.

The Internet is today a powerful communication medium that is influencing hearts and minds. It’s a place of competition with many voices … some good, some not. Paul did not agree with all that was at the market places he visited but he understood that the message of Christ needed to be spoken there for the people to hear, to understand and respond. So too for us as we venture out to minister via the new Internet market place.

Our next generation of young people are influenced more than ever by what exists on the Internet. For them, its much more than just an information resource; it’s become part of the fabric of their lives … a place to daily explore; a place to be entertained; and a place to gather and form friendships.

Early pioneers in Internet missions such as Campus Crusade’s Internet teams have discovered opportunities we never dreamed of only a few years ago. The Internet now compel us to “go into all the world” in ways we never imagined possible before.

Next we explore why the Internet is now offering us  for ministry to spiritual seekers.

In John 21:6 we read how Jesus’ disciples had been out fishing all night and caught nothing. Weary and disheartened, Jesus challenged them in the morning to “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some”. You can just feel the skepticism … “But Master, we’ve been out all night and caught nothing”.  Thankfully they did act in obedience.  In stunned amazement, they soon found they were unable to haul the net in because of the huge number of fish. Today, it’s a bit like that in Campus Crusade’s  Internet ministries. We are now overwhelmed with the number of spiritual seekers knocking at our door needing spiritual answers, mentoring and encouragement. It’s certainly an exciting time to be in ministry online.

So then … why are so many people responding and why is right now such a critical time for us to be ministering online?

Every person at some time in their life discovers their need to ask the spiritual questions of life … those deep questions that really matter … questions like “Who am I?” or “Why am I here?”.  We know that finding answers to these important questions is a key reason why God sent His son Jesus. So imagine if we had the opportunity to connect with spiritually seeking people … right when they’re asking. We now do!

Every day, over two million people now turn to the Internet to search for answers to these deep spiritual questions. That’s every moment, every day, every nation! Campus Crusade for Christ has pioneered in this mission field with multiple international ministries that are now seeing many millions responding each year. One of these ministries is Global Media Outreach (GMO). Global Media Outreach previously was a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ from (2004-2010).  In 2011 Global Media Outreach was launched as a ministry with the blessing and encouragement of Campus Crusade for Christ.  GMO and CCC maintain a strong partnership in reaching the world for Jesus Christ.

To give you some idea of the magnitude and growth; GMO’s 100+ web sites had over 156 million visitors in 2011 with 19 million people in 2011 indicating they had a spiritual decision of some kind.  The chart below shows the amazing growth trend. We don’t really know with certainty exactly what kind of decision each person made but even if only 5% of these were genuine first time conversions it’s still a very significant impact. GMO has over 8,000 volunteers to personally reply to these spiritual seekers but this nowhere near enough.  In the past we’ve only recruited individual volunteers – now they’re seeking to partner with churches, entire denominations and other mission organisations to assist.  It’s time to call our friends in the other boat!

So why are so many people spiritually seeking on the Internet? Well just stop and think about it for a minute. Firstly, for most of us it’s a very personal and private matter. The Internet allows us to privatelyand anonymously explore the answers from the comfort and safety of our home. It’s interesting to note that people who might never admit in public that they were considering Christianity are very likely to do their exploring online. Secondly, the Internet has become the place to seek answers.  Years ago we might have gone to the library, or asked a close friend but now it’s become almost instinctive to ask first on the Internet … even for the personal questions.

In 2012 a new global satellite service will be deployed selling wholesale broadband to Internet providers in remote and otherwise disconnected regions. Of the 7 billion people on earth, 30% billion people have an Internet service and 78% have a mobile phone. By 2015, telecommunication companies expect to have coverage for the entire planet.

Wow! What an opportunity … but how sad if we missed it. It was in part a realisation of this fact that I sensed the urgency and eventually God’s calling to what is fast becoming a mission critical ministry. We pray that you might also consider the many ways that you can invest your life and resources in this opportunity that God is now placing at our feet.

As I’ve visited and spoken with Christian people, I’ve been asked many common questions about our ministry  …