The new media & the good news

March 21, 2011

The unprecedented uprisings across North Africa demonstrate the power of the new media like Twitter, Facebook and other social networks. The unrest has swept a wave of anxiety through non-democratic governments, causing them to shut down access to the new media, via which the people can vent pent-up frustrations at injustice and corruption. 

In Holland this week. bankers felt the power of social networking as plans to reward top ING executives with six-figure bonuses irked clients who began a protest campaign via Twitter against the white-collar culture of greed. One after another, clients twittered their intention to withdraw from the bank, until the executives eventually were forced to back down. 
Last week I was watching a newstalk show hosting two young ‘new media’ specialists, one being the ‘new media’ editor of a leading newspaper. On this ‘old media‘ format, they were demonstrating the role of Twitter in gathering information from across Japan with grass-roots, first-hand reports. An interactive map of the stricken nation showing the locations of the reports came on the screen, giving a much more direct sense of engagement with the suffering of the locals, than with the one solitary news reporter standing with a microphone in hand.

Truly we are all witnessing a revolution in communication of tsunami proportions, with all its social, political–and now military–fallout. 

Overwhelmed

Some older folk, like myself, feel overwhelmed and unable to keep up with the new media. Frankly, we don’t want our daily lives to be dictated by a constant stream of information, trivial or dramatic. We’d like to get on with our lives, quietly minding our own business. 

In fact, I’m scared to stick my head out over the parapet on Facebook. On the rare occasion when I log in, I’m reminded of the hundreds of unanswered friends requests and simply don‘t know where to start. (Please don’t be offended if you’re one of those requests–nothing personal intended!)

Yet I wonder what Luther or Calvin might have done with the opportunities facing us today. They certainly capitalised on the communications revolution of their day–the printing press–to effect the Reformation, and changed the face of Europe and the course of history. That is how they connected with the general population in their day. 

The new media obviously is where the vast majority of Europe’s youth today connect. More than 82% of 15-16 year olds in Europe have a social networking profile, as well as 26% of 9-10 year olds. 

How then can we tap into this enormous potential for connecting with the Gospel? If secular newspapers realise the need for ‘new media’ editors, surely we need to wake up to the urgent need for ‘new media’ evangelists!

Enthusiastic 

One creative initiative coming from the French-speaking world is Top Chrétien. Brainchild of French pastor Eric Celerier, Top Chrétien has developed a cluster of websites and virtual tools for evangelism, in many languages, which he wants to be used as broadly as possible. (See topchretien.comjesus.netknowinggod.net). One such tool is the Jesus.net widget that can be embedded in any website, giving the possiblility for users to simply click on an icon and hear a contemporary gospel presentation, including a ‘sinner’s prayer’ by Billy Graham. 

Agape Europe has appointed Mark de Boer to encourage internet evangelism across Europe. He is wildly enthusiastic about the potential of this medium as well as the immediate and tangible results. 

He and his colleagues demonstrate via live google earth mapping where and when inquirers are coming on line to access some of the virtual evangelistic tools available. 

I urge you to consider joining Mark at HOPE•II in just a few weeks (May 9-13) in Budapest, to learn about ‘new media’ evangelism, whether you’re from a local church, youth group, student club, mission organisation or a home group., Mark will facilitate one of the 20 or so consultations being held during the congress, to help us engage with the challenges of Europe today.

But don’t wait long before you sign up (via www.hfe.org). Registrations received after April 1 pay a ‘lazy bird‘ late registration fee.  

See you in Budapest? 

Till next week,

 Jeff Fountain 

 

Till next week,


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