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After an insightful conversation with some very interesting guys* I have discovered a very interesting theory about the internet – a place (yes, I consider it a place even though it exists in ‘the cloud’) I really enjoy. The internet, like any other place, forum or social platform, is a mission field. Like any mission field it has its own culture, its own ‘rules’ and even its own language. And like any missional Christian, you need to learn how to navigate the culture you find yourself in so that you can effectively communicate the gospel. Like it or not, the world is moving towards becoming technologically saturated. To those of us who are still a few steps behind, it can be scary. And often, a lack of understanding makes us resistant and critical rather than embracing. People complain about how ‘the younger generation’ spend so much time online and on technological devices, rather than interacting with other people. The truth is though, they are communicating. Even though it’s not in a language we’re accustomed to, this generation writes more on a daily basis than most generations before them. These small bursts of writing are most often interactions with other people online. This form of communication doesn’t look like the conversations of the past but we cannot discredit it – this is the way the youth are communicating and if we do not participate, we will misunderstand them entirely. And worse, we will be misunderstood by them. What does this have to do with being missional? Well, there are thousands (hundreds of thousands) of voices out there in cyberspace who will not set foot in a church building. They will be living in homes where their parents are fighting with each other. They will be bullies or kids who are being bullied. They might even be a lonely old lady in a retirement village, abandoned by her children. The internet is a marvellous burrow of connected rabbit holes that give us portals into the lives of other people. Through a blog, a youtube video, a website or a Facebook page, we can get into their homes and say something to them. We can share the love of God, as they stare into that screen. These are not the kind of people who want to be smacked over the head with the gospel – they don’t relate to that and closing down a window is easy to do if they’re not interested in what you’re saying. They are the kind of people though, who like humans throughout history, crave love. And isn’t that what we have in spades? Isn’t our God LOVE? I think the internet is a brilliant resource. I know that like any great invention, it has the potential to be corrupted and that, at times, it can be a minefield to navigate BUT navigate it we must. If we do not at least try to keep up with this new form of communication we will not be able to speak the language – making everything we say sound like garbled alien prose. We need to speak their language so that we can communicate our God – the LOVE we have found – to these people. If you spend any time at all online, I urge you to be a digital missionary. Spread the love. *The interesting guys I mentioned are the ever entertaining Brad Herselman and Mark Nyman. Sit down with them some time… they’re rad.  

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