Traditional word-of-mouth evangelism is still a major tool for local church planters and even world renowned speakers like Franklin Graham and Greg Laurie. But emerging alongside the more than 2,000-year-old ministry is a new form of gospel communication techvangelism.
Outreach is taking on a wider and faster medium through techvangelism, which combines technology and evangelism. Following the now popular televangelism industry, the technology-based outreach is emerging as an ever-important tool for wider audiences. With one billion people using the web and over 200 million people in the United States alone using cell phones, Christians are presented with a major opportunity to reach the world.
This past weekend, over 100 people were wired to the online network at the Techvangelism '06 conference in Menlo Park, Calif. The conference, held ahead of this years Internet Evangelism Day, raised awareness in the Christian and church community about a growing industry that Christians have yet to grab onto.
Touching on a series of popular technological tools, conference co-chairman Angela Hey pointed to the absence of Christian application in various tools such as cell phones.
"Christians need to put good content on cell phones," she said. And although print newspapers are an essential medium for news information, Hey said individuals, particularly bloggers, are coming out with "the best news" nowadays.
"There's a new opportunity for Christians to write their story and communicate with people," she said. "That's a major industry that's going on right now and the church needs to be made aware of it."
Conference attendants were not necessarily "techies" but largely had some technical experience, according to Hey, with most of them wanting to "give back something to the industry."
Scott Lindsey, ministry relations director for Logos Bible Software and one of the conference speakers, commented on the same problem that was seen 15 years ago when his company was founded by its president, Bob Pritchett.
"Bob Pritchett saw the whole world changing in regards to technology, but sadly, the church wasn't doing anything with it," said Lindsey, whose Bible software company is now the world's largest. Over the last 15 years, Logos has converted theological books into e-books.
At the Techvangelism conference, Lindsey addressed church leaders and lay people on how to stay current with emerging technology.
"What I bring to the table is cutting edge tools for studying the Bible," he commented, "and how the church can use technology for a much thorough, deeper Bible study."
This year's Techvangelism conference was held ahead of Internet Evangelism Day, which falls on May 7. Initiated by an umbrella group of evangelical Christian organizations, including the Billy Graham Center, Campus Crusade for Christ, Mission America and others, the day is encouraged as an international effort among churches, Bible colleges and Christian organizations to communicate the outreach potential of the Web.