Some people say that the internet is a bad thing for Christianity. They say that it makes Christians more shallow and breaks up healthy communities as people reject normal church in favour of a ‘make your own church’ using downloaded sermons and studio produced worship music. I agree that it’s not a great idea to let technology become your church (this is starting to sound like some strange sci-fi thing), but I do think that Christianity can be greatly benefitted by making use of the World Wide Web.
Alright, I might be a little biased. The only reason you’re reading this is because of the internet. To an extent, I’m probably ‘preaching to the converted’ as well, because if you’re reading this, it’s unlikely that you’re against Christianity making use of the internet in any form. Oh well, I want to get down my thoughts so this is my opportunity to do so.
The way I see it, technology has given Christians a platform to spread their message globally. Jesus commanded us to ‘go and make disciples of all nations’, right? Well, spreading our message across the internet is a great way of reaching those people who otherwise wouldn’t be reached, people who would never consider going to a church or a Christian event, but might happen to stumble upon something you put on the internet.
Debates, sermons, music, blogs, articles – all these can be found on the internet and downloaded or ‘consumed’ in a matter of minutes (unless the sermon’s a long one). Through the internet, we have access to all the major components of a church service and then some. If used well, this is a fantastic resource that shouldn’t be overlooked. It can supplement the teaching you’re already getting, it provides a way to research topics for yourself that interest you, it’s a way to pick up views that aren’t all that common in your church/Christian circles, and it’s a way to grow as a Christian and to broaden your mind a bit.
BUT (yes, there was always going to be a but), I’m of the opinion that the resources on the internet are no substitute for a) a real relationship with God, and b) real relationships with other Christians.
If the internet becomes your religion, then you have a problem. If all you ever read of the Bible is quotes in downloaded sermons and blog posts, you need to switch off that machine and open the book. If you’re not praying to God because your head is too full of a guy waving his arms in a lively preach from the other side of the world, you need to switch off that machine and go and find somewhere quiet. Christians must never let the internet take the place of the living God in their lives.
It’s also important that the internet doesn’t replace the unique, Christian community that we can have in church and wider Christian friendship circles. These relationships are built on mutual belief, love and trust. People really know you and can help you with things in life that things on the internet just don’t help with. Friends know what you’re going through and they can pray about it and help you through it far better than a blog post or a sermon can. Also, having this real, face to face community of believers can keep you strong. When you feel a lack of faith, sometimes theirs can carry you. They can encourage you and, if necessary, warn you when something’s not right. You just can’t get all that from the internet.
To conclude, the internet’s great for supplementing our Christianity as long as it doesn’t become our Christianity. By all means use it to grow in knowledge and wisdom, gaining new insights and perspectives, but never let it become more important than real life relationships with God and other people; it can become an idol all too quickly.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8 (NIV)