Falvo Fowler, Editor Web Master, GC Sabbath School & Personal Ministries

Summary: This article speaks to the usefulness and responsibility of technology within the framework of its purpose in discipleship.

And He walked onto the information highway and looked technology straight in its bits and said to those connected “follow me.” And they came from portals that were ignored by those who professed Him but could not identify with the world around them.

If Christ had come to the world in this generation, I wonder if that is how the Gospel would have been written as his call for disciples.

If you look around at Christian media today you can recognize programs, concerts, and other media offerings targeting a buying or giving Christian demographic and not particularly the demographic that have yet to hear about Christ. The stories of the suicidal, the desperate, the dejected, the cave man abound; we hear testimony of all these people who tune in and discover the love of God, and there is a need for that.

But I would like to hear the story of the wealthy industrialist, the millionaire web professional, or the movie mogul, who at the height of their popularity discovered a God who, so full of grace and mercy, related so well with their lives that they could do nothing else but follow His Scripture into a life that touches those around them.

New ways to teach truth

We have often made idols of our methods and hold to them as if God cannot use new ways to teach truth. We cannot keep the ever fresh gospel in old wineskins (Mk 2:22). As new methods are presented, we are called to move forward in faith and embrace new opportunities. Even the sower moved in faith knowing that the seed would take root wherever it was best received (Mt 13:1-9). We are called to be that sower. But for that to happen we, as Christians, need to break the mold we have become humanly accustomed to and continually rediscover the working of the Holy Spirit.

That’s the crux of being a disciple–allowing the Holy Spirit to lead beyond the coziness of complacency into the comfort of faith…that existence of invigorating air as you leap beyond what you think you know and what you know you can learn by His leading.

The internet–a communication tool

In today’s world of technology the internet is just one option to utilize. But to utilize it well we must produce well. Too often material is dumped onto web pages as if just that dumping will reach the world. It’s similar to emptying your refrigerator on the street and believing people will stop by for an enriching meal. Some may be desperate enough to eat it, but for the most part people walk by wondering at the callousness of such actions.

Be proud of what you believe and the God who continues to guide you through those beliefs. Invest well in production and testify well of His love. Whether it is a simple web page or an extensive website, plan your approach, study your demographic, and direct your attention to them. Paul didn’t just write letters and address it “The World. Read this–from Paul.” He wrote specifically to the Corinthians, the Ephesians, the Romans, and others. His writings were specific to the concerns of the respective audience with enough to benefit others. It is a perfect example of reaching out, but reaching out with purpose.

Use technology effectively

The internet and the generation today is culturally and geographically diverse yet unified in technology. It is possible to produce an approach to scripture specific to a demographic in your local community, but consciously and methodically have sections of the site contextualized for various other groups.

Like websites, to make podcasts effective, plan well, produce better, and place it where it can make the most difference. Concise recordings rather than long drawn out ramblings will maintain the interest of the targeted listener. Make it personal to the listener. Like Christ, tell current parables as much as possible and preach where applicable–life changing programming amazingly enough changes life.

Christian blogs are effective in reaching people if they continue to be about real people, with real concerns, real struggles, real failures, real joys, and real faith. We forget the turmoil in stories throughout scripture and tend to provide a sanitized version of life, but life is messy. In a Christian blog, people need to see a God who loves them despite their messy ways. When creating virtual writings or using real words: make yours count.

Virtual worlds, like Second Life, are probably going to be the next big thing. How do you create a buzz in a virtual world? Especially when this virtual world is very real to so many. A challenge even to some tech savvy, it is the new ground for seedlings. And if developed well, can reach the thousands who gather in this new world to watch concerts, meet dates, or just sip a virtual cup of coffee. As crazy as this all sounds, it is here, it is happening, and it will grow.

A network of sowers

If you build a strong, well planned, scripturally-based, community, it will spread faster than the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and have just as amazing an effect. Bits and bytes don’t make all the difference. If Christ had come to the world today, I believe he wouldn’t forfeit the church, small group studies, or personal visitations. He would use them as grassroots to build a network of sowers.

Our church is blessed with great resources. However, they are often not used to the best of potential. For example the Sabbath School study guides: we hardly have enough time to truly discuss the material during Sabbath School. We could split the study for mid-week small group. Then we could further discuss and recap on Sabbath morning. In fact, the mid-week would be a good time to bring a non-Christian to the study without the intimidation of a full blown congregation. Imagine the social interaction that is guided through that study! Imagine the strength of that community in that church because they came together during the week and followed up in the blessing that is the Sabbath!

The print media is technology

Remember that print media is still technology and it still works wonders. The fact that you’re reading this in printed form is testimony to that.

Whether webpage, podcasts, blogs, virtual worlds, or even the printed page, there is a need for Christians to live an exemplary life in Christ without compromise. There are many people who are waiting for a community that can relate to their lives while demonstrating a life filled with God’s grace and lead by His mercy.

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April–June, 2007

Discipleship