What is Online Missions and why does it matter?
According to Pew Internet's May 2010 survey, 79% of American adults use the internet. Ninety-four percent are sending and receiving email. Thirty-two percent are searching for religious or spiritual information.
The new mission field is in your home. The Internet has redefined economies and created new rules. The secular world has learned that it can react in one of two ways: live in denial and ignore it, or leverage it to an advantage to create new and highly successful business models. Likely your church has a program to bring children to Christ and disciple them through the church. But how are you reaching the people in your community and the world that don't go to church, may have never been to church and haven't heard of your church in particular?
"Global Media Outreach is a leading pioneer in Internet evangelism and discipleship."
—Paul Eshleman Founder, The Jesus Film Project
Jesus said, "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all
nations; and then shall the end come." (Matthew 24:14). Preaching the gospel to "all the world" has historically been viewed as one person being in front of another person or perhaps a group. But we are fast approaching an entirely new world where preaching to all the world has become an electronic reality. Every desktop, cellphone, iPad, etc, will enable the gospel to be available to the entire world, just as Jesus said it would be. It is easy to think that online evangelism, done in the safety of the home or office, is not 'real' evangelism. But anyone sharing the Gospel online has a very vital and real ministry.
Every day millions of people each day do a search on the Internet for a spiritual term. People are seeking answers. And millions more are open to hearing the gospel message. The focus of online missions is to effectively reach the diverse range of Internet users
How can you be sure the Internet is working to reach people for Christ?
Internet results are measurable on a minute-to-minute basis. Traffic to every website can be monitored regularly. See daily people finding Jesus all over the world — GreatCommission2020.com. And since, in many cases, a response indicating a decision to receive Christ includes an email address, a trained volunteer can actually follow-up through email with the new believer. Global Media Outreach is a pioneer in developing a model to meet seekers at their point of need, present them with the gospel and follow-up through an online volunteer and discipleship materials. For GMO, tracking and accountability is essential, but the ministry has gone even further than simple online tracking. Conducting surveys each year to people who have a made a decision at least six months prior, GMO is tracking the results of spiritual growth. In addition, GMO's model includes tracking of activity on its discipleship websites so that volunteers can see how their contacts are progressing.
Since the Internet isn't "face-to-face," some may be surprised at the high numbers. But the very fact that it's NOT face-to-face is why the Internet is so effective at reaching some people. Some people are uncomfortable meeting with a Christian, or, for those in closed countries, they may even fear for their lives! The sites not only present the gospel, but also provide a direct connection with a Christian. The next step is to connect these people to a local church. Sites such as GodLife.com provide discipleship materials and a church finder for those seekers in the United States.