(Photo: AP Images / Khin Maung Win)
Churches, fellowships, small groups, ministries, and followers of Christ throughout the world will be setting aside time on Sunday to focus on how to utilize the internet for the purpose of evangelism.
Held each year since 2005, Internet Evangelism Day is a time for churches and individual believers to take time out of their regular routine to explore new ways to reach their neighbors, communities, and their world for Christ through a platform that more and more people are having access to.
At the end of last month, over 1.59 billion people around the world were found to have access to the internet, according to Internet World Stats. At the end of 2000, the number of internet users was only 360 million.
“Using Internet technology, we are the first generation capable of bringing the Gospel to all parts of the Earth,” says Walt Wilson, founder and chairman of Global Media Outreach (GMO), an internet ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ International.
“IE Day is a collective effort where everyone can focus on fulfilling the Great Commission in a single day.”
Supporters of IE Day, such as GMO, are hoping that the internet evangelism movement will pick up as quickly as – if not faster than – the rate at which sites such as Facebook.com or Twitter.com are growing.
Though Twitter does not release the number of active accounts, estimates place the number of monthly unique visitors between 6 to 8 million and its annual rate of growth at over 1,000%. Facebook, meanwhile, reports having more than 200 million active users – around half of which log on to the networking site at least once a day.
This year, for IE Day, GMO is among the rising number of Christian groups making it easier for people to share the Gospel and participate in IE Day with articles and Gospel widgets for blogs, Facebook pages or other social networking sites.
Since its inception in 2004, GMO has been utilizing emerging technologies to spread the message of Christ around the world. Over the past five years, the ministry has seen the number of people who have made commitments for Christ through its 91 Web sites grow from 21,066 people annually to more than 3 million people in 2008.
This year, the ministry is anticipating more than 5 million decisions for Christ.
“We are seeing people in unprecedented numbers searching for Christ in these challenging times,” Wilson reported last month.
Churches interested in getting involved with in IE Day can visit websites such as GMO’s or the official website of IE Day, internetevangelismday.com, which has free resources, including short skits, effective strategies, and other tools and references designed to get people thinking about the subject of internet evangelism.
Also available on the site are tips for designing good church Web sites – ones that do more than just list the church’s address and the times of worship services but actually engages in ministry and reaches people.
“The rapid growth, broad international reach and economical cost of the Internet offers individuals, churches, and ministries an unprecedented opportunity to share the gospel of Jesus Christ worldwide,” says Dr. Sterling Huston, chair of the executive committee for the Internet Evangelism Coalition, an umbrella group of evangelical Christian organizations who share a vision for online outreach.
The Internet Evangelism Coalition (IEC), which initiated the first IE Day, has been backing IE Day and facilitating its promotion since 2005.
The executive member organizations of IEC are: American Tract Society, Billy Graham Center, Brown Governance, Campus Crusade for Christ, Christian Broadcasting Network, Christianity Today, Evangelism Explosion, Gospel.com, and Mission America.
On the Web:
World Internet Usage Statistics News and World Population Stats at www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm
Web site for Internet Evangelism Day at www.internetevangelismday.com
Web site for Global Media Outreach at www.globalmediaoutreach.com