To begin a blog is a daunting task which raises many questions. What will I say? Who will read it? What will be its purpose? Ideally, I would like this blog to serve as a means of communication between Jonathan and me and our family, friends, and supporters. What shall we communicate, and how shall we do it? The “what” will be developed over time and will focus on our work as missionaries. The “how” is before you – through a blog, a website, through technology.
To begin with, we count this site as a blessing. To be able to converse with someone, regardless of time or distance, is incredible. Through this medium geographical boundaries can be overcome, and relationships between people can be built. Through a site like this, Jonathan and I are able to connect with people in ways that would not be possible otherwise. Provided that there is access wherever we go abroad, we will not be totally disconnected from our families as people were in years past. Praise God for the Internet!
A website online also carries with it great immediacy that can be a useful tool in missions. It provides supporters a means to participate in the work that they support. For example, we know of a group that works against human trafficking in Thailand. The nature of their work is secretive and their information sensitive. As such, they are unable to disclose much of their ministry. However, just moments before a trafficking sting operation occurs, this group will post specific and detailed requests for prayer to those that follow them online. In this way, precise intercession can be sought for engaging such dark realities. When people are engaged in one accord like this, despite the distance between them, a sense of community can develop.
However, this is where we must closely examine this “connectivity.” What does the medium of the Internet imply about community and Christian ministry? An online community is comfortable in the fact we can choose it according to our likes and dislikes. If we feel passionate about something, we can get deeply involved with it. But if our interest wanes, we can just unsubscribe and be on our way. Real community, Godly community, is uncomfortable. We are called to step beyond our comforts and personal preferences, into mature relationships. I am convinced that the conflict inherent in real, committed, and uncomfortably pervasive community is one fundamental factor in producing maturity in us. How can we grow into maturity, how can we learn to turn the other cheek if we bail out before it has the chance to get slapped?
This, then, brings us to technology’s implications for Christian ministry. As I said above, having a website is an awesome tool that can be used in many good ways. We must remember, though, that a website is not the end means for sharing God’s work with others. We cannot, and should not, stop here when sharing Christ. Christians, we serve an incarnational God. Do we really think that posting a few words about Jesus is enough to be called the Light of the world? Is not the Internet ultimately dis-incarnational? Does it not allow us to be removed from others in our interaction with them? When living under the label “Christians”, we are essentially being called “little Christs”. As such, we should follow the example of whom we are named for. In doing Christian ministry, we need to be incarnational just as Christ is incarnational. We need to be wholly present (mentally, spiritually, emotionally, physically, financially) to those particular people God has placed us among. There is no substitution for this. This is a way of being that I am still maturing into.
Then, if blogs, or wonderfully constructed web pages, or printed tracts and advertisements, or technically well-produced preaching clips are not the best media for sharing the Good News, what is? Church, we are the medium that God has chosen to share His love to the world. We are the Body of Christ, the hands and feet of Jesus. In our good moments, and our bad moments, we are what God has chosen to display Christ to the nations. Who can understand the mind of God?! Therefore, let us praise God for the tools (and the mind and ability to create them) with which He has blessed us. Let’s use them intelligently and with reflectioncare. But let’s not be afraid to roll up our sleeves and join in, face-to-face. Deep relationships, true community, and incarnational Christianity are sometimes messy, uncomfortable, and inconvenient – but it is how we are called to live. Technology, then, is just a means (not an end) to help us do that.
I’ll end with this point for reflection: God, the One who created and sustains the cosmos, is gracious enough to choose fallible, imperfect us as His medium to convey the message of the perfection of His love in Christ. If the medium, then, carries as much impact as the content of the message, what do we communicate about God?