As many of you know, I am not a big fan of MySpace. I find it to be a site not really worth wasting time on â€“ and thatâ€™s saying the least. I donâ€™t believe itâ€™s a place for friends, and itâ€™s not really a place where Christian teens should be spending their time. I think it should be as it was meant to be â€“a place for bands to connect with their fan club. No more than that.
The Christian Post had a recent interview with the Internet Evangelism Coalition on MySpace, Xanga, and other blog sites and their implications for Christians involved in reaching millions of lost people surfing the internet.
CP: The goal for the Internet Evangelism Coalition has been to encourage churches to use the Web for evangelism and outreach. Have you seen an increase in the utilization of the Internet especially the phenomenon of MySpace.com among churches?
Rev. Robby Richardson: First of all, [the goal has] always been to stimulate Internet evangelism with individuals, churches and parachurches, not just churches. And yes, I think we are seeing an increase in how individuals and churches and other organizations are using the Internet for evangelism. One of the things about the Internet is that it is a constantly changing medium. If you were to go back even in a short history and trace how it was used, it went from informational to interactive. And now the big phenomenon is the whole community aspect which MySpace and Xanga and Facebook and so forth are a great example of. So one of the things weâ€™re trying to do with this conference is to stimulate some thinking about how does that fit into the role of evangelism. Itâ€™s not anymore just reprinting a tract and putting it online, but how does this whole phenomenon of the Internet as community building â€¦ what opportunities does that give us to communicate the Gospel effectively?
That is an extremely interesting question â€“ how are we to use the amazing new tools that have been placed before us effectively? How are we as Christians to take hold of the internet and use it for good? Can we do it without stumbling? The Christian Post wondered something very similar in itâ€™s interview.
CP: There are many concerns over the dangers of an online tool like MySpace.com as it draws sexual predators and features inappropriate language or images. Would you say thereâ€™s more concern than the opportunity?
Richardson: I wouldnâ€™t say more concern than the opportunity, but there sure is a very legitimate concern and a need to understand how these things work and what our involvement should be. Part of the discussion is going to be the question â€˜Do we provide social networking opportunities for church youth groups or those things that donâ€™t have those aspects of inappropriate language or inappropriate advertisingâ€™ versus â€˜If we remove ourselves from the marketplace, if we take the Christian voice out of the national conversation, whoâ€™s left to represent the Gospel?â€™ And I think thatâ€™s the balance thatâ€™s there. So part of it becomes: â€˜What are we trying to accomplish?â€™ If weâ€™re trying to accomplish edification of Christians, if weâ€™re trying to accomplish giving an opportunity for Christians to communicate with similar like-minded Christians, then yes, having an opportunity where people of like-mind can be together is great. But if in doing that weâ€™re pulling ourselves out of the marketplace and weâ€™re saying â€˜Hey, weâ€™re afraid of whatâ€™s there so therefore weâ€™re going to pull the authentic voice out,â€™ weâ€™re removing any opportunity for people to see the reality of a relationship with the living Christ. So itâ€™s not an â€˜either/or,â€™ itâ€™s a â€˜both/and.â€™ Itâ€™s a spectrum of understanding the nature of what the phenomenon is, understanding some of the dangers and being wise in how we do those things. But I think what the world needs to see, whether itâ€™s a group that I hang out with, a softball team that I play on, or a community group online, is an authentic relationship with the living savior. And the only way to do that is to flesh it out in front of a watching world. If we step away from that world where they canâ€™t see it, then weâ€™re not going to flesh it out in front of them; theyâ€™re not going to see that authentic relationship.
I think that it is important that we are careful, and donâ€™t fall into either ditch of â€œwe canâ€™t ever use it because it has such and such related to itâ€ but we must not barge on ahead unaware of the issues and problems involved â€“ and we need to address those problems as Christians and we must not ignore them. But we must be involved in evangelism.
I do not believe the best way is to surf MySpace, posting gospel messages, though that is certainly a legitimate means of sharing the gospel (if you are doing it correctly. ) I truly believe that the most effective means of sharing the gospel on the internet in the future will be with sites such as YouTube â€“ a highly interactive site with videos of anything you will ever want to see (and things you probably wonâ€™t want to see.) I believe it will be the future in internet evangelism.
Can you imagine a place where you can not only hear the message, but you can also see the person delivering the message â€“ itâ€™s just like Television, without the televangelists telling you that youâ€™ll have a better life. It will be videos of Christians truly concerned with the lost, begging them to come to the Savior â€“ telling them of their sin and their need to repent.
I strongly encourage you to make some evangelistic videos â€“ especially if you have some good equipment and can produce something that will catch non-Christians and lead them to listen to a clear gospel message. If we could make videos like Rhett and Link with sin, turn and repent messages strongly emphasized in them, we could save so many. Itâ€™s time to put into action what we preach.