So. How verrry interesting. Discovered in time for the conversation I was having on Forums…where Christians and NonChristians intersect… is this discussion on Christian blogs about the perception of insulation of Christians, by Living Room and an internet outreach project in the making. I don’t have time to opine at the moment, but I wanted to alert Vash to this since I feel her comments, based on her experience in this sort of dialog and coming from the ( presently 😉 unbelievers side of things would be pertinent.
It reminds of my beer story …now that I have read Vash’s comment.
Beer story, you say?
Yes. Before I was saved, though I was a vague sort of Christian, I had a good friend who had become a dedicated Christian. I was visiting her on her campus and we went to a student union hall or something like that. I don’t remember the exact place, now. What I do remember is how she obsessed over the issue of whether to drink a beer or not. We talked about it for a good enough while that it ingrained in my mind all these years. What I recall, as someone unconnected with Church, at the time, was that I couldn’t see what the big deal was. I remember saying if you want to drink the beer -drink the beer, if you think it is wrong -don’t drink the beer.
I didn’t see what the issue was.
And now that I am many years in the Lord with a fair amount of Christian interaction, and exposure to how Christians approach such things…. now I understand. It was definitely a big deal to her. For her, it involved many things in how she was working out her obedience to God and making her way through the beginning Christians minefield of figuring out God’s Will ( Thank God for His patient Holy Spirit to lead us safely through that).
It is the same with a Christian web interaction. There are issues that are pertinent to Christians in the working out of their faith. There are Christian responses to issues that the world faces, and there are Christian answers to unbelievers dilemma’s. They are in different forums, however. They will matter in differing degrees according to the place the specific people are in at the time.
Christianity is not a cooky cutter faith. It is not a plastic pre-manufactured world. It is Life, and it applies in real ways to real people with a True interactive God.
So my answer to this discussion is that there are a number of needs to be filled by Christians on the internet. I do not end here, however. Web ministry has its problems.
Is the Web A Net or Not?
I say, not really. Not really, as opposed to a flat no. I have been drawing some opinions on this for a few years.
The internet is an intellectual medium, that is, it utilizes the mind. Especially in its more interactive forms, it is stripped of the emotional, and the physical. That is what many people like about it. It gives free flight to the inventions of the mind. The trouble with this in Christian ministry is that we are a holistic body that is to reach out. When we reach towards man’s mind only it is to persuade and pull down “strongholds”. That is, we batter at those preconceptions which oppose God’s Truth. The very idea that we think there is a ‘God’s Truth’ is met with the immediate appearance of those strongholds.
And Christian ministry has little use for battle of the minds, because too often that ends in the dominance of one over another. And that is not what Christ died for… to give leave to those who follow Him to crush and dominate their fellow man. Not physically, not emotionally, and not intellectually.
Our battle is in the spiritual realm. But we do contend for the truth in the presentation. That is how the web is best used: to present truth and dispel lies. That ought to be its highest purpose, right? Just as in journalism of any type, or in academics, or in any venture of the mind.
And in meeting of the minds, one wants to stimulate the others thinking. And our own. Christian web ministry can be useful for that… but it is a poor substitute… to the degree of being a counterfeit …. for real Church. Meeting the true needs of people with whom one can have ongoing relationship. You can’t show love over the computer screen.
You can blab about it all you want, you may give good words and sincere words, but in the end talk is cheap. And the Christian will always run into that wall.
Because we are based on showing the Love. The Love of God which is unlike any other sort of love and has to be experienced to be believed.
This is where we fall short and this is where the temptation in internet ministry will be a problem: we can easily delude ourselves into thinking we are loving others…without the tests and proofs of real life. Because that is where the rubber meets the road, baby. Hey! Vernon McGee said it;)
So if you are called by God to meet unbelievers on the internet to minister to them, more power to you. I think that is worthy. But it doesn’t necessarily relate to the other brothers and sisters. It is not a group calling.
I speak this from experience. I have had lots of interaction with unbelievers in many venues and -just like my choice to have a large family- I do not make this a method and mold for EveryChristian. We each have our gifts and our callings…we should support each one as it honors Christ.
I do agree the Church is too insulated, but why don’t we start by talking more with our neighbors? With lending them a helping hand? Why don’t we invite some foreign students to our homes? We will have to stop some of the dizzying Church Merry-Go-Round of all our ladies groups and men’s golf outings, and much of the blah-blah that goes on. And yes it does, and it eats up your time. It robs God and it robs families and it is a vanity. Get thee to the bonfire with it.
Then you will have the mindset and the time to really listen to people online and off who have real issues with Christians. They just want to see something real. You can’t just tell them about it, after the expectations are raised with that we have to really come through. We must have substance.
The internet is only a starting place. In some ways it replaces the old placing of tracts in public restrooms. HA! Work with that one… it is true. It is only a starting place. So develop it that way, with that in mind, and we might all have something. Give the seeking mind something to work with… give the hostile mind something to consider, give hope to suffering, but get yourselves ready to give something real when they come to your Churches.
Because that is where it will matter, Brothers and Sisters. All the rest will pivot on that.