Faith

Technology impacts the way the gospel is shared

With the increase of technology, Christians use different ways to share the gospel than they did 50 years ago. A device powerful enough to wake you up, smart enough to send a message, yet small enough to fit in your pocket is in the hands of 95 percent of Americans, according to Pew Research.

There are a lot of variations to technology such as transportation, phones, computers, social media, etc. It only takes a few minutes to communicate with someone halfway across the globe, so how does that play into evangelism?

Lee Schrader, the Client Support and Video Production Specialist at John Brown University, said technology has more positive characteristics than negative ones when it comes to evangelizing. For instance, it’s a lot easier for missionaries to get support, whether emotionally or financially.

“It’s a smaller world all around and I think that applies to missions, and missionaries and mission organizations,” he said.

Technology, however, is not limited to missionaries on the field. According to a survey conducted by Barna with 1,714 Americans, 64 percent of Generation X surveyed said technology and media make sharing their faith easier.

In the same survey, 58 percent of non-Christians said someone has shared their faith with them on Facebook. Most of the Christians surveyed said they use personal posts or sharing other people’s posts to share their faith.

When using social media to share your faith, Schrader said that Christians have a great responsibility to share the truth online. “You’re a witness wherever you are in your life. You are evangelizing those around you,” he said. “You’re a witness online and technology should bear that out.”

A post Billy Graham wrote in 2017 said that many people who hear about the gospel through the Billy Graham internet ministry live in places with few evangelists or missionaries. “Almost everywhere someone can open their smartphone and read the Bible or hear a Gospel message—something unheard of only a generation ago.”

The Bible App celebrated its 10-year anniversary in July 2018, with more than 300 million downloads. The app has more than 1,200 languages available for people to read.

Although technology has allowed Christians to reach more people in more languages, there are also downsides. Regan Roth, a senior business administration major, said people tend to think that they can just stay home and watch a sermon online instead of attending their church.

“Seeing each other in person and praying and worshipping as a group is valuable as well,” Roth said. In the Barna survey, 69 percent of surveyors said that it is harder to have one-on-one conversations now than in the past because of the distractions of technology.

Hope Smith, a freshman biology major, said, “We’re distracted and always buzzing, so we go wide [with people] but we don’t go as deep… If our relationships are the basis of which we share what God has done in our lives and who he is, then I think that it loses a little bit of power, by not being willing to go with deep with people.”

Some people use technology to hide from speaking with others. The Barna survey found that 64 percent of millennials are more likely to avoid spiritual conversations with others because they are too busy using technology.

“We’re the social media activists. I think it’s easy for people to do things on social media and with technology that makes them feel good, but it’s not necessarily an effective thing,” Schrader said. “They don’t go out and do things, they don’t actually go meet someone face-to-face, [and] they don’t necessarily do things that make a difference. They do things that make them feel good.”