Leading the Story in the 21st Century

Narrative HeaderStar Wars and Narrative

I recently bought the original Star Wars trilogy on DVD.  Together, the people in my household have been watching them one by one.  Unbelievably, everyone under my roof have not seen these movies up until now, except for me.  I have had to explain how one could not truly understand American culture until a person has seen—no experienced–those movies.

Most Americans have not only seen the Star Wars movies, they have memorized them.  But I’ll even take it a step further.  Most people have in some way become a part of the Star Wars narrative.  They have bought the merchandise, dressed up as a character a time or two, had some sort of light saber battle, and/or had some sort of theater experience.

My Mom was pregnant with me when she saw the first movie.  I saw the re-releases at a giant theater in southern California at midnight, where most people were dressed up and reciting the lines with the characters onscreen.  Star Wars is a part of my story.  It’s in my blood.

The reason why this is compelling is not because 1970’s special effects are still cutting-edge, or because no movies since have come close to that level of dialogue and character development.  It is because Star Wars is great narrative, or maybe even the best narrative.  That is what compels people to see it.  But I’m not just talking about the story on screen.  The greatness of the narrative has surprisingly little to do with the plot of the movies themselves.

Yes, the actual story in the movies is great, which is part of what fueled the original success, but there is far more than that.  There are the special features-type stories of where the characters came from, how the ships were built, and even how Lucas came up with novel ideas for filming.  People knew these stories long before home movies were even around.  But beyond that there are stories of “where I first saw…” and memories of all the times that each person somehow interacted with the idea behind Star Wars.  Star Wars is not a movies series, or even a brand.  Star Wars is a story…and it is all part of our stories.  And that is what sets Star Wars apart.

Star Wars is not peculiar in this regard, it is just a great example.  There are other movies, TV shows, books, and even events.  Nor is this a new phenomenon.  What is new is how communications technologies have transformed the popular consciousness and ways of processing information to make this concept of narrative far more important than ever before.

The Revolution in Culture

But the same point about movies is true about companies, products, and political candidates.  Truly, the world is nearing the end of a revolution in communication, a revolution that has changed very fundamental parts of the way people think and act, and ultimately is very good.  But, like any revolution, those who can’t evolve and those who refuse to understand will be left far behind.

You can see the revolution all around you.  You see it when you realize that movie blockbusters get people to wait in line for hours to sit through a brief film that won’t affect their lives all that much, while no one waits in line to hear a sermon on Sunday morning.  People flock to Lady Gaga concerts, when no one would suggest that she is the best musician on the scene.  But beyond these examples, the viral videos and memes of the Internet all become part of the lingua franca of our culture.  The evening news reports of riots in Egypt have been largely replaced by youtube videos and tweets of the average people there.  Story has become not only the message, but the way that messages are communicated, and the way they are absorbed.

Why is this the case?  It is because people crave the narrative.  People think in story.  A good story will draw people much better than a sermon about “3 ways to be a better dad.”  People love the narrative of Lady Gaga much more than her music.  Story motivates, enthralls, and ultimately inspires action.  And it is this concept that will either be a key to success for future leaders and motivators, or guarantee failure in the new social setting of the 21st century.

The 2008 Election

This is why people like Barak Obama and even Sarah Palin have seen success in the last few years.  The election of 2008 was a lock for Obama long before any votes were actually cast.  It had nothing to do with race, or even hatred of Bush.  It was really all due to one simple fact: Barak had a compelling narrative that people felt a part of, and McCain had none.

Remember the election?  Barak Obama stood for hope and change.  He stood for people chanting “Yes we can!”  He was the mixed-race son of an immigrant.  He talked a lot about what he believed and what we could achieve, and seldom talked about how we could do it.  What was his economic plan?  What was his health care plan?  How was he going to extricate us from Iraq and win in Afghanistan?

This isn’t to put him down.  It wasn’t that he didn’t have a plan, or even that his plan wasn’t any good.  Those issues don’t matter to his success, and didn’t matter to those voting for him in the election.  He wasn’t elected on his ideas.  He was elected on his narrative.  That is also the reason why people react to criticism of Obama with such rabid ferocity.  To attack his idea is to attack the narrative, and the narrative is not just his story, it is theirs.  That is why they wear his face on T-shirts, buy magazines and books with him on the cover, and give him Nobel Peace prizes before he’d accomplished anything.

What was McCain’s narrative?  He actually has a great one.  He’s a warrior from Vietnam who spent years being abused in a POW camp.  He is also a long time warrior with results in the Senate.  But during the election, he suppressed all of that in order to focus on the whats and hows of the issues.  When the recession hit hard, he suspended his campaign to come up with ideas to fix it.  That was very admirable, but it further removed him from the story.  Further, although the memory of Vietnam is still rather fresh for many Baby Boomers, it is not the narrative of the last 20+ years, and it certainly could not have been the central narrative of the 2008 election.

When election day came, people did one of three things.  Some voted for Sarah Palin’s narrative.  They marked McCain’s name, but it was the narrative of Sarah Palin that motivated them (look at the polling for McCain before and after her entry to the scene).  Some voted against Barak Obama, for one reason of another.  But many more than either of those two groups joined in the Obama narrative.  Barak won decisively.

Narrative in 2010

In the 2010 election, the story was reversed.  The narrative now was all about a “Tea Party.”  New leaders had arisen, talking about fiscal responsibility, and tying their stories to the story of the founding of the country.  They adopted the American story as their own, and called people back to the ideas that America was originally built on.

Speakers for the Conservative movement started talking about George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and the Constitution.  The message was pretty simple, American exceptionalism as a kind of gospel, the Founding Fathers as apostles and martyrs, and the Tea Party leaders as evangelists of this new gospel.

Average Americans were showing up at rallies and speeches, joining the new narrative with their own.  No longer was the message about what one was being told by Rush Limbaugh.  Now people were calling Rush Limbaugh to tell what happened in their city, and they were posting photos on Facebook and hash-tagging it on Twitter.  The Mainstream media and liberal commentators were trying to stop it by using terms like “Tea-baggers,” but they were playing into the very hands of the movement.  They were simply adopting the narrative.

The Democrats had no counter.  They had no narrative.  Health care reform had passed.  They were in charge.  There was no compelling story to sell, and no story was told.  The base was barely engaged in the election.  Even Liberal veterans in states like California were afraid, and digging their claws in to hold on.

The election was a landslide.  The story was believed and it motivated people to go to the polls and vote for their favorite story that now included them.  The incredible momentum of 2 years ago now seemed like a political eternity.

He Who Tells the Story…

Narrative is now the main force in American politics.  In a way it always has been, but now the image-makers and strategists cannot ignore it.  The winners of elections and the leaders with true influence will be the ones who control the narrative, and even more importantly include the average voter in that storyline.  The money and power of elections will be not the ones who spend the most on TV ads and bumper stickers, but the ones who leverage social media, viral video, and who tell the most compelling story.

This is because these media are where the narrative is being communicated, and further where the whole tale goes viral, where it joins with the people’s own story.  Facebook for instance, will not be nearly as important as just another type of billboard or position statement, but as a way to interact, and hand the baton of the story off to the community.  Successful leaders must think conversation more than TV ad.  For when Sarah Palin puts up a message on Facebook, people hear it.  But when someone comments on the message she just put up, in a real way now they feel as though they have entered into the conversation with Sarah Palin, and their friends are all now included.

This is not to say that money on print and TV ads will not be important.  On the contrary, those who don’t get their story told to the biggest possible audiences will have no ability to control the narrative or include others in it.  Nor does the focus on social media mean that money can simply be thrown into these technologies in the same way that they are thrown into TV and print.

The real center of power, and money-making potential will be in crafting the narrative and handling the exchange between one way communication and conversation.  The challenge will be in making the message  become a story, and making the candidate’s story become the people’s story.  And the ability to control and manage that narrative will be the difference between the future John McCains and the Barak Obamas. -Ryan

For further research on this, watch this incredible lecture by Simon Senek on Ted.com

Google Voice Transcript


First of all, yes I realize that this is unreadable.  But, you can view full and read the whole thing.  I included this so that you didn’t have to take my word for it.

One of the coolest things that has been invented in the last couple years is Google Voice, a free product in beta from our overlords at Google (just kidding, guys.  I love you).  I have written a couple other articles on here about the joys of Google Voice.  One of GV’s cool features is the transcript it creates of all of your voice mails.  It can then automatically send it as a text to your cell phone and/or send you an email of the transcript.

Usually, I can get the general gist of what is being said by reading the transcript…usually.  Sometimes, I have absolutely no idea what the caller was saying.  They have a ways to go before their system is at all foolproof.

The above message is transcribed: “Hey Ryan, bread streak with her and just calling to check in with you.  That’s based on without your phone number.  I don’t know it was hitting underneath my nose.  But anyway, looking forward to talking with it.   Give me a call whenever you get a chance. [phone number withheld]  Thank you.”

Questions I had before I listened to the recording: 1- is this person a streak on a piece of bread, or bread and recommending streaking with some girl?  2-Why does any of this require notifying me?  3-How did my phone number create this situation?  4-My phone number is actually hitting you in the face?  I knew it was pretty rowdy.  5-You just want to talk with my number?

I have rather enjoyed this transcript.  I return to it often just to reminisce, and realized that this must be shared with the world.

The Free Information Age -part 2

In a previous post, I discussed the beginning of what I have dubbed the Free Information Age.  This post was not meant as simply a parenthetical comment to the current zeitgeist, but as an introduction to a discussion of both the cultural waters that the Church must swim in, and a means of strategy for how the Church can carry its message and navigate in this new economy of communication and ideas.

There was a time in which many would accept a bull or ecclesiastical pronouncement with an assumption of infallibility.  Those days are gone.  The Church is mourning this, and that is natural.  But that is mostly because it is natural to prefer blind submission.  The Catholic church didn’t like Martin Luther’s criticism of its theology and practices, in the same way that the Church currently clings to its old position of assumed inerrancy.

Some since of assumed credibility is actually important.  No two parties can truly dialogue if one party questions the validity of every position the other takes.  But should the Church actually fear shouldering the burden of proof?  Let me illustrate.

I remember as a child getting into the argument over “My dad can beat-up your dad.”  This argument was never solved, and never tested.  As a child, I was certain that my step-father was much stronger than anyone else’s, but I secretly knew that there was a possibility that he wasn’t, and the other boy wondered the same.

But what if my father had been Mike Tyson (the 80’s version)?  In that case, I would never have backed down.  The other boy might, but I would be safe in knowing that my position was indisputably secure.

In a similar way, Christians must know that Jesus is who He says He is.  They know that His claims are indisputable.  We have nothing to fear in marketplace of ideas.  We don’t need to defenders of God to the world.  As His claims are tested, He will be shown authentic.

One of the reasons that Christianity has difficulty in this is that our rhetoric is often louder than our actions.  Jesus was clear in that we are to be people who are known by the love that we share, joy, peace, patience, etc.  These are all actions, not words.  Our actions are to be explained by rhetoric when necessary.  In the words of Theodore Roosevelt, we are to always “speak softly but carry a big stick.”

If skepticism of information can cause us to do this more, then it will bring us back to the type of Christianity that we should practice, instead of the rhetorically-driven example of the political Church.  -Ryan


The Free Information Age

At the end of the 1980’s people began to herald the coming of a new age in human history, one that was based not on metal or manufacturing, but on ideas alone.  By the early 90’s people had accepted that this new era had come and had dubbed it “The Information Age.”

We now know that those early forecasts were entirely correct.  In 30 years we have gone from newspapers and books to blogs and Kindles.  Who but sci-fi writers would have predicted that paper maps would be now virtually useless and things like land-line phones, music you buy in a store, and even most wires might soon follow.  But changes in technology aren’t really what is most striking in this new era.  Technology is always assumed to be advancing, yet major changes in the way people interact and commerce is done has been completely revolutionized.

But I don’t need to go on and on about the changes of the Information Age.  This isn’t in question, nor is it the scope of this post.

What does seem to be noteworthy, is that I believed that there has been a major chapter change in this societal tome.  The zeitgeist of the Information Age or IA (because I am sick of typing this out) was that Information could be a commodity itself.  In fact, information itself could prove to be a more important commodity in many ways than even brick and steel.  Information can be used as a weapon.  The lack of information can  be at times more significant than the information itself.  Whole companies, like Microsoft, are based on commoditizing information.

As the 90’s waned, the idea of piracy became very mainstreamed.  It seems that the creation of the MP3 was really the tide changer in this.  As people realized that they could get music for free over the Internet, we all somehow forgot that this had ethical implications.  Okay, we didn’t forget, we willed our own amnesia.  I remember saying upon receiving my first CD burner, “Aha, I will never pay for music again!”  I’m not proud of this, but it happened.

This was the last page of Chapter 1 of the IA.  The next page introduced the Free Information Age (FIA).  As people switched to the idea of free music, this lead to actual philosophizing about the nature of information ownership.  Who “owned” music?  Was it the artist, the record company?  The CEO of the record company?  When you bought a CD, did you now own the music that was on it?  The record companies came up with their take on all this–that you actually only owned the “right to listen to the music” on your CD.  Copyright law has still not been settled on this matter.

But the striking aspect of this is not what it has done to information media or even legal aspects of copyright.  It has lead to a much larger free market of ideas and information in general.  The publishing company Conde Nast just announced last week that they are going to discontinue 3 of their major magazines in the coming months.  Other major magazines and newspapers have already gone down.

You might think that this has all led to a decrease in publishing, but the opposite is entirely true.  In fact, the volume of publication (in general) has exponentially been increasing.  It is the locus of this information that has changed.  While the MSM (a common acronym for the “Mainstream Media” referring to what has long been considered the source of reputable information) has been in decline, blogging, podcasting, and even alternative print has been spreading like wildfire.

Information is now not coming mostly from sources that the publishing houses have authorized, but from individuals who simply have been democratically given a louder pulpit.  It is information capitalism at work.  In some sense it is very beautiful.  Penguin Trade Paper is no longer the vetter of what we get to know, the market itself is.

Along with this comes checks and balances.  The Iranians conducted a missile test last year and widely publicized a photo of the test.  irainian-missile-1

The photo shows 4 missiles being fired in a sign that the Iranians are not to be trifled with.  The story was carried along with the image to your left, in all of the major wire services.  The problem was that it was a fake.  This and images like it have even spawned a new term, fauxtography.

As this came out, bloggers, and netizens examined the story in detail, and began to notice some problems with the imagery.  It didn’t help the Iranian cause that the administration wasn’t seen as trustworthy to begin with.

iranian-missile-2The image on the right is that as examined by the Internet community.  It represents areas that netizens found to be cloned (reproduced from other areas of the picture).  Finally, an image was found that was determined to be the original, an image that showed only one missile being launched.

The Iranian government realized that one missile being launched in the desert was not particularly intimidating, but four missiles was terrifying.  In the end, the message that was heard by the world was that the Iranians felt inferior and weak, and therefore had to fake being strong and intimidating.  This case showed the information community to be quite capable of rejecting information that was fraudulent.  It also showed that even though the spigot of information was wide open, that did not mean that all information would be accepted.

However, giving everyone a microphone is not always a good thing.  The spread of urban myths and disinformation has also become epidemic.  Less than a year after the September 11th, 2001 terror attacks theories spread out of the Muslim world accusing the Bush administration of orchestrating the attacks in order to invade Muslim lands.  All of these theories (including those that implicated Israel and Jews) have been thoroughly debunked by various unbiased authorities.  A book was even written by the editors of Popular Science magazine scientifically debunking these myths.

Yet, these ideas have only grown.  They have spread through Internet memes that take advantage of people either too ignorant or lazy to research the truth (i.e. “fire cannot melt steel), or purposefully intent on spreading propaganda (i.e. “thousands of Jews called in sick in New York on 9/11”).  What should have easily been discounted as ridiculous by netizens has only grown.

The one factor that links these two issues is that the Free Information Age has brought about a skepticism of information, and an assumption of conspiracies.  People now operate more under the assumption that all information is disinformation until proved otherwise.  This has enormous implications for the Church.  More on that later.   –Ryan


Contextualizing the Gospel -Part 2

Neither of these church responses is appropriate, of course.   When a missionary takes the message of Jesus into a completely unreached people group, he must find a way to connect that message to their cultural and world viewpoint.  This is no easy task for the missionary.  Much of the way the life of Christian faith is lived out in a particular culture is not actually essential or biblically derived.

Many churches would make speaking in tongues an essential part of the Christian life, for instance.  While the Bible clearly talks about speaking in tongues, and Pauline letters mention it as a great gift of the Spirit, but no where does the Bible mention it as an essential.  Despite this fact, there are many Christian groups who would take my last statement as a fighting challenge.

It is easy to pick speaking in tongues as an example, but there are myriad ways that we Americanize our faith, and communicating that faith involves a stripping down of the gospel to its essentials.  If we truly believe that this is the word and will of God, then our cultural baggage is nothing but Astroturf lining the best of fairways.  The message of Jesus doesn’t need our cultural additions.

We cannot help adding these additions, though.  When any culture accepts the Christian faith, it makes it its own.  Korean Christians have a practice of prayer whereby all the members of the church pray out loud simultaneously.  It creates quite a holy ruckus.  It is good.  It is holy.  It also sounds weird to our western ears.  It is a Korean expression of Christian faith.  But Koreans can not hope to force Americans to accept their prayer style as necessary to being Christian.

This seems obvious, yet the Church in America sits as the American culture has been radically redefined over the last 40 years, hoping to contextualize American culture to our faith, instead of doing what any missionary would do and contextualize faith.  I think that part of the reason has to do with a general assumption that America is a Christian country.  Many people seem to subconsciously equate Americanism and Christianity.  The klaxon call is to not let the sinners take over our culture, and fight a cultural war to prevent this.  Of course, it is important to encourage our government to support healthy morality, but this is not a battle that the American Church should make our front line.

Instead, we should be seeking to contextualize our faith into the changing landscape of cultural America.  We should be finding out where people meet, what people want and need, the cultural touchpoints they have.  Once we do that, we can use these areas as introduction points, our cultural carriers of the message of Jesus.  This will be difficult for the Church to do, but it is absolutely necessary. -Ryan


Contextualizing the Gospel -Part 1

One of my most-discussed topics on this blog has been the life of faith in a post-Christian America.  The most read section of this blog is the Church Tech section, about the use of communications technology within the church.  These two topics are not disconnected, though.  Any new culture necessitates new ways of communicating the message of Jesus.  Radical societal changes create a new culture.  Thus, the Christian message must be re-contextualized.  In order to understand the methods of communicating that, we must first truly understand the basic reasons behind this.

The difficulty is that the Church in America has largely missed addressing the massive changes in culture over the last 40+ years.  In some ways, the Church has insulated herself against these changes.  While the community is seen as increasingly ungodly, many Christians have banded together into Christian ghettos.  Over time the Christian culture has changed independently of the culture around it.

A great example of this has been seen in worship.  In the 1970’s the Church in America started to adopt the musical styles of the larger American culture.  In a relatively short amount of time the Church changed its worship style from the hymns of the last thousand plus years to the more modern praise songs.

A natural result of a more exuberant worship style was increased movement in worship and raising of hands.  Churches needed a way for its members to see the words of these new songs.  Songs were being frequently added to the musical canon, and older ones were being removed.  This was not conducive to printed hymnals.

As technology increased and prices dropped accordingly, churches began to display these words with overhead/slide projectors and more recently, video projectors.  So, visiting the average church in America on a Sunday morning, one will find a group of people clapping along to the music as they sway and sing at a digital projection of words and video.

This isn’t greatly different from a rock concert, but people staring at projectors with one hand raised as they awkwardly shuffle their feet is its own beast for sure.  While this has evolved in Church, the larger outside culture has grown into a greater variety of musical expressions depending on genre.  A rap concert might have a crowd packed tightly with people jumping and arms swaying, while hardcore and punk fans are moshing in the pit up front.  Although it has been modernized, Church music still looks and sounds very different than its secular counterparts, but for new reasons.  While the culture evolved, church culture has evolved too, but separately.

A second response to the changing culture has been for the Church to cling to the methods of the past, refusing any changes at all.  Many of these churches look to the glory days of the 1950’s when the sanctuary was packed.  Either because of political forces within the church resisting, or as part of a poor growth strategy (similar to keeping your Member’s-only jackets in hopes it’ll come back in style), these churches have tried to keep everything museum-quality.

In these churches one can find the only places in America with pews and pipe-organs.  Deep Maroon carpets and green pew hymnals sit locked eternally in 1962.  The pride of these churches is their history and they give even vocal approval of the fact that they haven’t evolved, as if the gospel itself is encapsulated by the accumulation of dust.   -Ryan


Things Not to Do (1)

Do not put “Welcome to our little website,” or any derivative of this on your website.

People know that it is your website.  They just clicked or typed the url to get there.  You can say “welcome” if you really feel the need, but the full message just really sounds hokey.  It also gives the feeling of being really amateur.  When I see this on a site, I automatically throw it in the mental wastebasket.

By the way, these “things not to do” are not necessarily meant to be massive paradigm-shift kind of things.  I am not saying that if you don’t have that message on your website you will have a great online ministry.  I am just saying not to do this.

What Makes a Good Church Web Ministry (Part 4a)

I am sure that I will regret posting this.  I weighed the options in my mind: Don’t post-it doesn’t sound polished, there is no main point, I have no idea what I’m saying.  Do post-I won’t sleep if I don’t get this out.  I’m posting.

I just watched a video webinar from Drew Goodmanson and Cynthia Ware that was linked from Drew’s site.  It presents the data from a survey that they helped conduct.  I must say that it is making me re-examine some long held preconceptions of church social networking in my mind.  I am coming to realize that much of what I had thought two years ago is not working out socially the way I expected.  It is one of those slap-in-the-forhead moments.

I am still working out a lot of this.  Here are some things that I learned over the last 45 minutes:

The manin desires that the people in churches who were surveyed have for their church websites:

  1. Church events on an online calendar.  They want to be able to sign up for things online.
  2. Prayer requests online.  They want to be able to post prayer requests through the website.
  3. Serving connection.  People want to be able to find out how their gifts can fit into an area of service at the church.
  4. Home group connection.  People want to be able to connect to and interact with a home group.
  5. Church email/directory.  They want a way to be able to contact the church and church members using the website as a resource.
  6. Bible study connection.  They want to be able to study and connect with a Bible study online.

You know what was missing?  Social networking.  People did not feel that they needed a social network within their church.  Why would they?  Can we do Facebook better than Facebook?  If we could, should we?  Now that I think about it that way, I realize that even my answer is “no.”

Here is what they said they didn’t want:

  1. The ability to blog
  2. Classified ads
  3. A way to post their own photos
  4. A job posting board
  5. The ability to post things to a social media site

I do believe what they said regarding this day and age of new media is correct.  Building upon their base, I believe that Christians are going to have to use mostly existing social networking with excellence, and our success in Web Ministry will depend on our ability to do the following:

  1. Not add an additional network or online activity that church members don’t have time for.  I have been mulling this a lot lately.  It is becoming a full time job for people to keep up with all their networks.  In the very near future either one network is going to beat all of the others so badly that no others will exist, or social networking will completely disappear when everyone gets tired of it (not likely), or a solution will appear to completely integrate all major existing networks so that no one goes to facebook.com or any of the others anymore.  One blogpost will go out simultaneously on all, and these portals will cease to exist in the eyes of the average user.
  2. Make their Web Ministry a completely interactive place.  I can’t stress my belief in this point enough.  I am almost willing to say that an e-brochure style website is almost more of an embarrassment than a benefit.  I stop short though, because if a church doesn’t have their vital info linked online, they should think about shutting their doors.
  3. Provide instant gratification.  Things like podcasting and video have got to be available and accessible.
  4. Be decentralized.  Church Web content cannot be done in a top-down way.  Content has got to be available from more than one direction, if that makes sense.  I’m still working this one out.
  5. I really think that there needs to be an open-source nature to Web Ministry as well.  It needs to be collaborative, and allow some of the more tech-savvy people to do what they do best.

There will be more.  Like I said, I am still working this out.  This has been very stream-of-consciousness, I know, but now I am going to go to bed a little depressed.   I don’t like not having things worked out in my mind.

Internet Evangelism Day -April 26th

The other day I got a comment from Tony from InternetEvangelismDay.com. I usually am very skeptical about people who try to sneak link-spam into my blogs, and I tend to be pretty heavy handed with the comment approval. I checked out the site just for kicks-and-giggles, and was quite impressed with what I saw. Their site is a veritable menagerie of tools and helps for churches planning to use their Internet ministry effectively. At the core of their plan is to make April 26th a day dedicated to Internet evangelism worldwide. Continue Reading…

Internet Evangelism Day

The other day I got a comment from Tony from InternetEvangelismDay.com.  I usually am very skeptical about people who try to sneak link-spam into my blogs, and I tend to be pretty heavy handed with the comment approval.  I checked out the site just for kicks-and-giggles, and was quite impressed with what I saw.  Their site is a veritable menagerie of tools and helps for churches planning to use their Internet ministry effectively.  At the core of their plan is to make April 26th a day dedicated to Internet evangelism worldwide.  I am waiting to hear back from them about a few things, and am happy to use whatever platform I can to help them reach our mutual goals for ministry.  This really gets to the heart of my passion.

InternetEvangelismDay.com screenshot Behind all my theorizing and theologizing regarding the Church and communication is a core conviction that has been growing inside for several years.  Basically, I have grown tired of the Internet being the Devil’s playground.  Christians fear it.  UnChristians revel in it.  It is the Mos Eisley Cantina (for all the Geeks out there) of our little planet.

The Internet is both the biggest opportunity for evangelism in the history of the world, and the greatest tool the Church could ever hope for.  Yet we are letting it slip by deeper and deeper into darkness.

When Gutenberg invented the Printing Press, the Christian Bible was the first book ever printed, and almost immediately the Church showed that it intended to use this medium to the fullest.  Still to this day, the Bible remains the best selling printed book of all time, and other Christian books are common worldwide best sellers.  Yet, as the Internet spawned, the Church has been painfully slow and wary to use this medium much at all.

Do you doubt me?  Can you name one major Christian blog that cracks technorati’s top 50 regularly?  Give me one Christian site that is on everyone’s bookmark list.  We have GodTube, the poor Christian cousin of YouTube (I’m not really dissing them at all), and other Christian versions of popular culture online.  And yes, we use the Internet pretty well for Bible tools, and maybe some “Christian dating,” but not much else with excellence.

So my conviction and passion is to point the way for Christians to use this tool to spread the great news about what Jesus did for humanity through cyberspace, and to use the World Wide Web to teach people wanting to learn more about God wherever they are.  I have a passion for this, because I believe that God has a passion for it.  I believe that no x-rated site, or malicious virus can prevail against God and His people.  I believe in a revolution of love starting on your web page, and mine.

That is why I am behind what InternetEvangelismDay.com is doing.  Mark April 26th on your calendar, and start a viral movement to take the Internet for Christ.  –Ryan