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How The Internet is Changing Evangelism and Missions By John Edminston

There are currently 2.4 billion active Internet users, and another 3 billion are expected to be online within five years as cell phones increasingly become Internet-enabled smartphones and as cheap digital devices proliferate. The changes are not only quantitative; they are also qualitative. The essential dynamics of Christian ministry are being fundamentally altered. The heart of how we minister is being changed forever in at least ten significant areas:


The Internet brings an enormous amount of timely strategic information to even the smallest church or mission agency. This allows us to see the big picture better than before and even to drill down to the small details that affect how we implement our evangelism strategies.


People “think aloud” in cyberspace. Most Christians’ theology and practice (including ecclesiology and missiology) is now mainly formed as a peer-to-peer online process with occasional expert input. People do their thinking, and they do so increasingly online. Those ministries who wish to influence opinion must start doing so in cyberspace because that is where Christian opinion is primarily being formed.


People do their private, personal, and controversial thinking online. If a person wants to investigate a sensitive medical matter or political opinion, they check it out online. A Muslim wishing to find out about Christianity is not going to ask their family or their imam; instead, they will look at Christian websites. The Church needs an evangelistic, apologetic, and missionary presence in this global marketplace of ideas.


The Internet is facilitating collaboration across denominational boundaries and national borders—experts can now link up with other experts in fields such as church-planting and theological education.


People use the Internet to validate others. This applies to everything from a “too good to be true” investment scam to a local church they plan to attend. One oft-quoted statistic is that 85% of young people will check out a church’s website before deciding to visit. They won’t even walk through your door until they have clicked through your website!

Allocation of Resources

The Internet allows donors, foundations, and churches to assess projects efficiently and receive applications for funding across national boundaries. A big part of this has trusted mission information facilitators who regularly supply quality information securely for resource allocation.


The gospel is proclaimed on websites, chat rooms, YouTube, cell phones, and numerous Internet-connected devices. Evangelistic crusades are using the internet as a decision mechanism and a follow-up mechanism. The Internet is a highly personal and economical means of proclamation, and Internet missionaries do not need visas!


Online education has been an enormous success and has revitalized TEE and distance education. Groups such as MAF Learning Technologies are working to develop highly effective Internet-based pedagogy—many Masters and Ph.D. Programs are now partly or wholly via Internet-based distance education.


The Internet facilitates connecting and imparting the information and motivation necessary to effectively mobilize pastors, evangelists, and missionaries into the global harvest. matches tens of thousands of volunteers with Christian agencies. A ministry without an online presence will soon find it challenging to gain recruits since it will “not exist for many people.”


The Internet brings leverage to networks and enables contacts to be made for the multiplication of house and cell churches, church-planting movements, and small TEE-based bible colleges that are resourced via an Internet-based curriculum.

The Internet is not the be-all and end-all of ministry. But it is quickly becoming the starting point for all ministries. And without the starting point, there are no endpoints! I used to think of the Internet as merely a tool for outreach. Now, I view the internet as an ocean where we must sink or swim.


John Edmiston is the CEO of Cyber Missions; he has degrees from the University of Queensland, the Baptist Theological College of Queensland, and the Melbourne College of Divinity (all in Australia) and has lectured at several bible colleges and major seminaries during his over 30 years in ministry.



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