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Internet Evangelism

Digital Missions Endgame: Reach the ‘next 4 billion’ people

Connecting everyoneConnecting the rest of the world is a mission worth completing. For Christians, it means the potential for everyone on earth to “hear” the gospel… in their own language.

For most of us, the Internet is so pervasive in every facet of our lives that we take listening to Christian content online for granted.

But imagine what would it would mean to the 4.5 billion people still not connected to the Internet, to have the chance to hear gospel-focused messages on their computers and phones for the first time.

Here’s a map of where the unconnected people live.

The history of the Internet includes the story of a small group of architects that have always shared the grand vision of connecting everyone on earth.

However, as the number of interested parties has grown, so have debates about control, infrastructure, social structures, and economic rationales.

The size and number of today’s stakeholders have made the race to the end more challenging. And its probably going to take longer to finish than anyone thought. But that’s not stopping tech firms from digging in and pushing hard.

At this year’s Mobile World Congress, Google and Facebook spent a good deal of time evangelizing for the effort.

Each company has a plan to get more people online, from providing free basic services, to partnering with providers in the developing world, to offering efficient apps, to using floating cell towers.

Two of the biggest barriers to finishing the build out are access and affordability. But the biggest hurdle to getting the job done, according to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, “isn’t technical or affordability-it’s the social challenge, where the majority of people who aren’t connected are actually within range of a network and can afford it, but they don’t know what they would want to use the Internet for.”

Zuckerberg’s solution is to help people understand what they can use the Internet for.

Christians need to be in the race to help people understand they can use the Internet to hear the beauty of God’s plan and purpose for their lives… no matter who they are, where they are, or what their background is.

We need to accelerate the pace to keep up.

5 Ways for Christian organizations to accelerate the race

1. Invest in the future. Investing is not easy for cost conscious ministries, especially in uncertain times. The bottom line is… reaching the nations with the gospel on the Internet will come at great cost, but eternity will prove it’s worth the cost.

2. Complete U.S. digital infrastructure. Accelerating completion of the Christian digital broadcasting infrastructure in the U.S. can generate the profits needed to bring the gospel online to underserved areas. This can cover the hard costs of the global efforts, from providing technology services to content storage. To keep the gospel free, the expense of audio and video streams have to be covered.

3. Aggregate and curate local content. As smartphones get cheaper and connections become more available, new users will demand original content that isn’t in English, doesn’t require high levels of literacy, and works well on basic devices. Christian audio content is available today in hundreds of languages, accessible across many websites and apps. Reaching everyone with content in their own language favors coordination, a large-scale aggregation and curation strategy.

 4. Pool resources. For its part in connecting the world, Facebook understands the need to partner with mobile companies, operators in the developing world, governments, and local partners. Google is pooling resources and research in it’s efforts. And even though competitors, Facebook and Google are amenable to working together.

Christian organizations can run a play from this playbook. Reaching the entire planet online with the gospel is a huge, complex undertaking. No single Christian organization can solve the problem. Joining together in the U.S., and with counterparts around the world, can make sure that the gospel reaches the most remote people and cultures.

5. Finish the Great Commission. As global players race ahead to connect the planet, Christian orgs have an unprecedented opportunity to leverage those efforts to make sure the Savior is proclaimed to all people groups as they come online.

Time to sprint

In this interview with LifeWay’s Ed Stetzer, IMB president David Platt calls Christians to consider what obedience to the Great Commission means . There’s a feeling of urgency to do this work, unlike anything we’ve seen before. Anne Graham Lotz shares her passion for the Second Coming in this video, “What Time Is It?” .

We know many people and outstanding organizations that are committed to using media and technology to fulfill the Great Commission. They are moving in the right direction. But if we are to be driven by urgency, then we’re going to have to give the effort everything we have for a period of time.

This is a time to sprint toward the finish line.

And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come. Matthew 24:14