ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–“Christians have an unprecedented opportunity on-line to reclaim lost people,” asserts Thomas Wright, Internet evangelism coordinator for the North American Mission Board.
A medical doctor who went on-line to research a treatment for a patient in desperation, typed in P-R-A-Y, Wright recounts. “A site popped up that challenged him to pray. That site led the doctor, an unbeliever, to link to another site about how you can know God and he accepted Christ on-line.
“An Egyptian stumbled onto thegoodnews.org site,” Wright continues. “He read through the material there and found a link to a testimony of a former Muslim [who had converted to Christianity]. He wrote to NAMB that he was filled with sin and wanted help to find forgiveness.”
With more than 1,700 different religions in the United States, Wright maintains it is apparent that humans are working very hard to find God, and the Internet is a primary place where people are searching.
“There are more than 310 million people on-line globally,” Wright notes. With the United States being the fourth-largest unsaved nation on earth — behind China, India and Indonesia — Wright emphasizes, “The United States is the primary entry way, and English, Spanish and Chinese are the three major languages.”
Citing the current trend of the number of webpages doubling every year, he asserts, “The Internet will continue to be a primary economic, social and communication force.”
His conviction has led him to help churches see the tremendous need for Internet evangelism.
“Wherever lost people need to be saved,” the church needs to share the gospel, he says.
“We have allowed the culture to intimidate us [into believing] that people do not care about the gospel and that the church is irrelevant,” even though Christians know that isn’t true, he explains.
The best Internet evangelism pages, Wright says, provide interactive elements in four key areas: information, communication, evangelistic resources and intentional evangelism presentations.
“Our church or association pages should provide all four, but most of our time and money is spent on providing information when it ought to be on evangelism,” he says.
A woman once e-mailed the North American Mission Board to say she had learned a lot about churches, their staffs and directions to buildings, but no one told her how to meet Jesus, Wright recounts. “As a lost person, if people want me to get found, it seems like they should give me a map,” the woman wrote.
“That’s where we lose our focus,” Wright says. “We provide only information, but do not address the crying need of the culture or even the community. We need to seek and save the lost.”
Among the resources Wright recommends are interactive gospel presentations, such as namb.net, jesusfilm.org, thegoodnews.org and needhim.org.
Wright encourages churches, as a part of their overall evangelism strategy, to train members how to respond to somebody on the Internet who raises spiritual questions. “Know how to take any conversation, turn it toward the gospel and lead a person to Christ,” he urges.
“Teach people to watch for ‘divine encounters'” in which they can share Christ with another person, he adds. “In every access, we can have someone out there to start talking with about last week’s sermon, Sunday school lesson or what a difference the Lord has made in our lives.
“The Internet give us a chance to find a spot where we hone our skills to share Jesus,” Wright says. “Use your gift to invade the Internet for the kingdom of God, and help people to get on-line and be ambassadors for Christ.”