Wednesday, September 25, 2019
The internet is a wonderful thing, isn't it? We can do our weekly shop online, we can learn online, go to university online, watch videos and movies whenever we want to, listen to whatever music we choose, buy gifts, chat to friends and family, connect with people from all over the world, work from home...we barely have to leave the house anymore!
In our modern world, access to information has never been easier.
If we want to know something, we can "google it" in seconds; in fact, the average person "googles" 3-4 times per day...I can relate to that! I can never seem to remember how to soft boil an egg, so I am constantly googling "how to boil an egg" when I fancy some egg and soilders! Google has also settled many debates in my home...such as "where do butterflies live?", and "how do giraffes clean their ears?".
Google have released their own stats to show that they get over 63,000 searches per second! These searches can lead to any of the 1.94 billion websites. With free WiFi available in so many public places, information is literally at our fingertips!
If you go onto Google, you can search for any bible verse related to absolutely anything! You can type "bible verse on parenting" and up comes loads of results to choose from - I've tried this search myself on many occasions!
As well as finding a bible verse, you can also click on "images" in your google search and find awesome pictures of scripture to print out or share through your social media accounts.
The most searched for bible verse, according to the Bible app YouVersion is Isaiah 41:10, "so do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God." If you aren't one of the 268 million people who have downloaded YouVersion, I highly recommend having a look. Not only can you access 1492 versions of the bible and in 1074 languages, you can download and read over 900 bible reading plans relating to specific topics, bible verses and books. You can even complete reading plans with friends! It is an amazing app! Sorry if I sound like I'm advertising it, I just think it's great!
As well as being able to read the bible for free on thousands of websites and apps, you can also watch sermons and worship sessions on YouTube. One of the top Christian YouTube channels is Elevation Church who have 1.21 million subscribers tuning in to watch their services!
There are podcasts and sermon archives where people can search for sermons on specific topics and listen whenever and wherever they want to. My church has a sermon archive on our website, which is very handy when you have missed a service! (Check it out on www.smartchurchliskeard.co.uk click resourses, then sermon archive).
Facebook is a great platform for Christian's to gather together. There are countless bible study groups to join for fellowship, support and discussions. Many churches have their own Facebook pages where they communicate with their local communities. It is a really great way of giving people a window into who we are and what we do. One local church that I know of even broadcasts their evening worship services for anyone to see and comment on. What a brilliant way of letting people experience a church service from the comfort of their own home!
My church is currently running The Prayer Course in our house groups, which is also available for free online...as are many other similar courses. You can find the prayer course by clicking the following link https://prayercourse.org/ .
Worship music is another aspect of Christianty that benefits from the digital age...through spotify, iTunes, youtube and other music apps, you can find and listen to pretty much any of your favourite pieces. I personally like to search for "rocked-up" versions of my favourite worship songs and youtube does not usually disappoint! Worship leaders can also find tutorials and sheet music to download.
All of these platforms are brilliant for finding quick answers to our questions, for learning more about Christianity and for mission.
Sharing scripture images, worship songs and bible readings on social media is an awesome way of sharing our Faith with people who would otherwise not encounter it.
The Bible Lover blog has had over 1200 views since March, with pretty much all of these views coming from Facebook! There are also countless other blogs that have far more reach than mine. It's amazing to see so much information on Christianity online. I think the best part about this is that people who are curious about Christianity but who don't want to walk into a church just yet, can explore the Faith anonymously and take things at their own pace. Though if you are reading this and have any questions, please feel free to send me a message, I am always happy to have a chat about Jesus!
People spend roughly 6 hours and 42 minutes online each day, and are bombarded with information, so it's great to know that some of this information is God's word! It's a wonderful thought that God's call for us to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation." (Mark 16:15) has become so easy for us to do.
So with such a big audience online, there is a great amount of responsibility as a Christian. We must be aware that we are representing Jesus when we are posting online.
The internet poses many challenges, especially as we are putting ourselves out there for the world to see and scrutinise. The anonymity that the internet provides makes it a minefield as a Christian. One wrong move and we can be descended upon by atheists, who, from my experience, can be ruthless.
1 Peter 3:15 says "But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect". As tempting as it is to defend our Faith in the "comment section" of many a Christian- related news story on social media, we must remember that we are representing Jesus, and losing our cool online can do far more damage than good.
The Church of England recently released some guidelines for how we should conduct ourselves on social media, and they are guidelines that I feel EVERYONE should be adhering to online.
The Church of England's social media guidelines are:
Truth - we should hold ourselves to high ideals of checking that what we post online is fair and factual.
Kindness - we are all different and that makes the world an interesting place – and at times a challenging one. Think the best of people, whether they share our views or are speaking against them and aim to be constructive in the way we engage.
Welcome - in the language we use and the way we interact. It’s easy for Christians to speak in another language using words that those outside the Church might not relate to.
Inspiration - we are called to be witnesses of our faith and to use social media in a way that genuinely engages others.
Togetherness - we are one Church and other members of this Church are our brothers and sisters in Christ. It is crucial we treat those around us in this way.
Safeguarding - if you have any concerns about the wellbeing of children, young people and vulnerable adults, please contact the relevant diocesan safeguarding adviser.
Agree - to the Church’s and Archbishops’ social media guidelines.
You can find more information on this at https://www.churchofengland.org/terms-and-conditions/our-digital-charter .
I challenge you, dear readers, to "google search" your favourite bible verse this week and find a scripture image to share on your social media account.
Pray that at least one of your non-Christian friends will see it, and that God will work in them to bring them to Him. Let us go and make disciples of all the nations!