How to Using Technology to Spread the Gospel

Using Technology to Spread the Gospel
by Zach Olsen

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you,” (Mat. 28:18,19a). This command of Jesus set the course for the apostles and ordinary Christians alike (Acts 8:4). On foot, by sea, and by letter, the Gospel message spread from Jerusalem to the ends of the Earth.

In our information age, a message can be sent from Texarkana to Timbuktu to Tibet in seconds. Many Bible translations and commentaries are available for free in the public domain. Bible study material, reference tools, and sermons may be published to and printed from the Internet.
--> All of these things may even be done easily. (If you’re part of a generation that is flummoxed by technology, I’ll share a secret of the young folk. When we don’t know how to do something, we go to Google.com and type something like, “How to build a website,” or, “How to upload a voice recording.” This article will focus on what can be done. For how to do these things, I refer you to the nearest teenager or Internet search engine.)

This article will focus on using technology for study, for teaching, and for fellowship in spreading the gospel.

In order to teach others the Gospel, one must be diligent in his own studies. “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers,” (2 Tim. 4:16). Where do we get that teaching? “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work,” (2 Tim. 3:16). That wonderful scripture is the key to salvation. Without it, we would not even know how to be saved!

When Wycliffe translated the Bible into the common tongue in the 1380’s AD, it enjoyed a wide circulation that threatened the Roman Catholic church’s unbiblical practices. When Gutenberg made a leap forward in publishing technology by inventing the printing press in the 1450’s, the first book he printed was - you guessed it - the Bible! Reformers and restorers used the printing press to produce many copies of the Bible and instruction tracts. The dissemination of the Bible on the Internet is no less significant.

Websites like biblegateway.com offer dozens of Bible translations in 50 languages. Biblos.com, my personal favorite, offers all the features of a parallel text, a lexicon, a concordance, multiple commentaries, an atlas, and many other essential study features - all for free. If you have ever stocked your library, you know how much those books cost at the bookstore. Such free information makes in-depth Bible study much more accessible. Technology is also a huge time saver. Why spend five minutes looking through a concordance for that verse you are trying to find when you can search one of these websites and find it in five seconds?

The Internet is also a useful place to find articles, sermon outlines, videos, and recordings. Many faithful churches keep websites with these useful tools on them. Download a great sermon and put it on CD or iPod. Listen to it in the car. Subscribe to an e-mail list that sends out good, Bible articles. Run a search for “early Christians” and “instrumental music” to see what early Christians were writing about their a cappella worship in the time after the Apostles and before the rise of the apostates. You will gain some persuasive arguments to use in teaching.

One last word on this point: Keep the Berean mind (Acts 17:10-11). There are many false teachers in the digital “pulpit.” Do not believe anything without searching the scriptures to see if it is true.

Technology is useful in the teaching itself. Just as one may download articles and recordings, one may upload them as well. Consider the numbers. On the average Sunday, in the average local church, between a dozen and a few hundred people will hear a sermon. Video that sermon and upload it to YouTube - and the potential audience goes from hundreds to hundreds of millions. Will that many people watch it? Probably not! But someone who is searching for the truth - in both the traditional and the Google sense - can find it.

The same numbers hold true for articles. The greatest circulation of bulletins I have seen is in the few thousands. “Saul has slain his thousands...” comes to mind. One church website I frequent for articles has received over five million views in the seven years it has been up. Because of the nature of the Internet, web searchers go straight to what they are looking for. Every one of those hits represents someone who was looking for spiritual material and found it.

We also teach one another in song (Col. 3:16). Three years ago, I stopped by a church’s building in the Philippines on my way from one town to another. The visit was unexpected and the church was not meeting right then. The building was being cleaned by a family, and they had a CD playing in the background. The CD was playing congregational hymns. I recognized the recording and the voice of the song leader - it was a song downloaded from the annual singing in Spring, TX posted on kleinwood.com. Many brethren around the world have received teaching and encouragement from song recordings distributed over the Internet.

The gospel message may be shared through social networks in various ways. Some Christians blog about spiritual topics. Others use Facebook to invite people to Bible studies and lectureships. I have had numerous debates via email and messaging. Some people who would never set foot in an assembly are willing to discuss spiritual matters over the Internet.

The Internet is incredibly useful for teaching. However, it can never take the place of local evangelism. The Internet is a place of words and ideas. Paul wrote in 1 Thess. 1:5, “Our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. You know what kind of men we proved to be among you for your sake.” The gospel is most powerful when words are accompanied by an excellent example. That example is seen by those who know the teacher, not by strangers, half a world away.

Technology aids those who support gospel preaching. Paul thanked the Philippian brethren for their help in Philippians 4:16-17, “Even in Thessalonica you sent me help for my needs once and again. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that increases to your credit.” Truly, those who support others in preaching the gospel also receive credit for the fruit produced.

Technology has assisted us in two necessities: communicating with missionary preachers and sending them support.

I regularly receive e-mailed reports from several preachers overseas, complete with preaching itineraries, digital photos of assembled churches and soaking-wet people freshly baptized, and information about any pressing need that has arisen among the brethren there. There is no need to wait weeks for a letter to arrive. There is no need to burden a poor preacher with the costs of printing and postage costs of all those photos. It can all be sent by email for the 50¢ it costs to use an Internet cafĂ© for an hour. Technology saves time and money. How wonderful it is when that time and money saved goes toward preaching the gospel!

When it comes to sending money, the postal service may not be the best route. All it takes is one careless (or unscrupulous) postal worker, and that missionary preacher may not be able to keep the car he uses to preach in three different towns every Sunday. Electronic transfers and moneygrams are much more reliable. They can be performed online, but make sure you use a site with a good reputation. Wal-Mart also offers this service in most of their stores. There is a fee, but it is worth the security.

Institutionalists have wondered how we find and communicate with missionaries without missionary societies. That’s easy - we do it the same way the Romans knew about Paul before he went there, the same way faithful churches in the past conversed with missionaries, and the same way made so easy by technology today. We call it social networking in modern lingo, but it has been around ever since people knew other people. Technology just expands the scope of the network.

In all these ways, and many more, we can use technology to study, teach and preach the Gospel. Let’s hit the “on” switch and get to work!

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