Welcome to my new series where I wonder if some concepts and technologies are now obsolete thanks to our new paradigms and technologies. Today’s topic – evangelism.
Short term readers of my blog will think I only write about Linux and technology. Long term readers will know that I’m a Christian. I was brought up (what the media refers to as) an evangelical. Specifically, I was brought up as a Baptist. My entire church life though high school involved being told how we had to spread the Word of God. Indeed, if you believe in the divinity of Jesus and the infallibility of The Bible, it even says in the Gospels that Jesus commanded his followers to spread the “Good News”. And so they became the first missionaries.
I think, however, that evangelism is now obsolete. Why? The point of evangelism is not simply to “spread” the Word of God because that is an easy task on its own. After all, how hard is it to spread information? But the real point is to create converts to The One True Religion. (All caps for satirical reasons) What I’d like to know are the true numbers behind how many people have ever been converted to Christianity because someone came and told them about Jesus. Everyone I know (myself included) finds this annoying. It goes against all we know about human psychology. If someone comes out of the blue and tells you that you’re completely wrong on some topic are you going to a) change to their point of view or b) become defensive.
But even if we move away from the conversion aspect for just a moment, there’s the fact that technology has made the need to Spread The Word by sending people all over the world an obsolete act. Except for the few people who exist in the middle of nowhere, like the Amazon, everyone has access to the Internet. Anyone, anywhere, who has a true curiosity about Jesus the Christ can just google Him. Sure, there’ll be some websites full of garbage, but there should also be sites out there that tell the Christian point of view. Churches and other organizations can band together and create an omnibus website and then buy up tons of ad space on Google and get people direct to that site if they want to know about Jesus and Christianity.
Back to conversion. I’m willing to bet that an overwhelming majority of conversions to Christianity come from someone who decides to find out what this Jesus-guy is all about and then asks someone they think might know about it.
So, I think that instead of sending missionaries all over the world, there should just be one Christian website that tell people everything they need to know about Jesus and the Christian faith. It can have text, videos, explanations of the Bible in many different languages. Then there can be a link to someone they can email about God. And if they want to know even more, there can be a skype number. Finally, if they truly desire a human being, there can be a link to request a missionary’s presence. I think a requested missionary would find things a lot better than one who just came barging in. I think this properly leverages technology and efficiency and is a recognition that there really isn’t a person out there who hasn’t heard of Jesus or can’t ask around or look on the net to find out about Him. Beyond that, all you can do is wait for people to be ready. I’m a firm believer that a coerced conversion is a sham and does more hard to the cause than good.