Recognizing the prevalence of internet use among Christians, this article encourages pastors to use social media to connect with their congregations.
According to a Hong Kong survey, Christians who accessed the Internet 3-5 hours each day (including work hours) comprised the highest number of respondents at 29%. Those who accessed the Internet 6-8 hours comprised 20%. Among survey participants, 55% owned mobile phones capable of Internet access. In addition, 82% of respondents made friendships online. Next, those who used the Internet for leisure and entertainment comprised 68% of respondents. 84% of respondents said they used social networking sites to express care for friends.
Partial Results of the Christian Internet Usage
Internet Use (Including work)
3-5 hours (29%)
1-2 hours (21%)
6-8 hours (20%)
For what do you use the Internet?
Connect with friends (57%)
Social Networking Sites (40%)
What method do you use to express concern to friends?
Social Networking Sites (84%)
Meet in person (63%)
SMS on the phone (58%)
Number of friends on social networking sites
1-100 persons (32%)
251-500 persons (29%)
101-250 persons (20%)
Do you access the Internet on your phone?
Does your church have a website?
Have you visited your church website in the past month?
Christian Internet Usage Survey
Based on these results, a pastor recently pointed out that social networking sites are effective tools for connecting believers. Previous methods of providing pastoral care were to meet with church members on the weekends and ask them how they are doing recently. But since the advent of the Internet, many church members can share their feelings and experiences online. It would be a mistake for a pastor to wait until Saturday to take care of his church members because he doesnt have Internet access. Issues could have been solved before Saturday. As he pointed out, not using the Internet well would be the dis-joining of the pastor and church members, and losing a golden opportunity for a pastor to build relationships.
The above-mentioned pastor also points out that providing pastoral care through social networking websites is not limited by time and location. As long as pastors have time to get online, sharing appropriately and posting key Bible verses is an effective way to care for and pastor church members. Aside from pastoral care that requires practical work, social networking sites make it much easier to have conversations and build up relationships. If a pastor posts a picture or video on the Internet, he can connect with members of the congregation that share the same interest. If members of the congregation share pictures or verses, the pastor can also get to know bits and pieces about their lives, which makes it easier to build relationships.
The gospel is the power of God. The spreading of the gospel itself is not concerned with extrinsic technology. No matter how much science and technology advances, it must not become an barrier to the spreading of the gospel. Science and technology will never be able to answer the questions in the depths of our souls. It cannot solve the problems of evil, pain, death, and eternity, etc. We can only find answers to these questions in the God-given gospel.
Source: Gospel Times
Image source: 3G, by Simon A, via Flickr
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