‘Go’ ‘Follow’ ‘Add’ : Reinterpreting the Great Commission for Today

Image Credit: Lyndsey Lewellen

Go. Follow. Add.

All three of these words are commonly used in Social Networking. We ‘go’ to webpages. We ‘follow’ people on Twitter. We ‘add’ people on Facebook. Funnily enough, the New Testament talks about all three of these terms. We are to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20), we are to tell people to follow Jesus (Matthew 16:24) and that by following Jesus and going to make disciples, numbers are added to the Church daily (Acts 2:47). So how do we fit the mission model found in Matthew 28 to our online presence?

It is important that the Church recognises that the Great Commission doesn’t mean the physical world any longer. Rather, the Great Commission extends to every realm and existence imaginable. So, instead of us physically going out to make disciples, it’s important that we virtually go out and make disciples.

What do I mean by this?

We are living in an age of New Media. That is, creative media, design, internet, blogging, technological initiatives, social networking. Within these industries of new media are countless Christians. For those of us who are engaging in new media, we literally have the world as our oyster when it comes to making disciples. In fact, it’s never been easier for us to share the gospel!

In October of 2011, I won the Best Blog for Under 25s in the Premier Media Christian New Media Awards. In my acceptance speech, I briefly talked about the purpose of my blog, DeanRoberts.Net. You can watch my acceptance speech below:

I didn’t have much time (about 2 minutes) to say what I wanted to say, and I only briefly touched on the reason why I write my blog. I noticed that in an age of skepticism, where it’s increasingly uncool and irrational to be ‘religious’ in any sense, people are using the internet to try and find answers to life’s most difficult yet most important questions. Why am I here? What’s after death? Is God there? Which religion is the right one?

With the internet, one doesn’t have to go to a church meeting, an evangelistic event, listen to a street preacher, ask friends. They simply search google and results are shown. The people who come to my blog vary. Many are Christians. Many are atheists. Many don’t know what they are. But they all come searching for answers. Granted, some people come just to see what I’ve got to say about an issue, but isn’t that still searching in some context?

With that in mind, the aim of this blog is to make Jesus known; to present Jesus to the online community, the online nation. The offer is laid on the table every week on my blog for someone to commit themselves to Christ. And I know that people have through the reading of this blog. To those who know Jesus already, the aim of the blog is to get to know him better. It’s about exploring theology, the church, ethical issues, current affairs.

All this of course, is in order that we know God better, and are better equipped to fulfil part of our purpose as Christians living on the earth; that command I mentioned at the start of this post; Go and make disciples.

So, thinking about that verse in Matthew’s gospel, what is one to do with the internet and new media with regards to the Great Commission? My answer would be to harness it. To grab the opportunity with both hands and use the gifts and abilities that God has given you to make him known.

It’s high time the Church do this to the best of their ability. Church websites tell people a lot about a church. If it’s never updated, dull and boring, people who see your church on the internet will most likely not come to your church in person. If you’re not relevant to your audience, or what you write is dull and pointless (which I’m sure I’ve been guilty of at times) then people will not read your blog. If you’re doing this from a Christian angle especially, you may well be missing out on opportunities to share Jesus with others.

And the potential ‘reach’ for sharing Jesus is massive. Rather than merely going to one country as a missionary, or doing an evangelistic event in your town, the internet opens up mission opportunity to the whole world at the same time. Many of my blog readers are from countries where the Christian faith is treason and heresy, which is punishable by death if one subscribes to Christian belief. Many of those people undoubtedly will be Christians who cannot go to church and therefore need spiritually feeding from elsewhere, i.e, the internet.

This brings us to another point: the internet and new media have the potential to bring Church to people’s homes. Many of my friends do their daily Bible reading through internet use, iPhone apps and other things. Even the Church of England has it’s daily office on the internet for people to read. For those who are housebound, the internet can be a vital way in which people can grow in their faith and keep themselves within a community of believers (such as a Christian forum, live streaming church services and social networking).

Of course, all these things come with their negative points and one may argue that new media will never replace of be as good as face to face mission and discipleship. But in those situations in which face to face mission and discipleship aren’t possible, then new media and internet outreach is definitely the way forward.

Thinking and reflecting theologically over mission and the internet, what questions does using the internet raise in terms of discipleship and the Great Commission? What reservations do you have? Should our reading of the New Testament shape how we use the internet and how we communicate through digital and new media?

I’d love your opinions on this, Christian and Non Christian alike. It would be great to get a conversation and dialogue going on this issue because it’s something that I’m quite passionate about.

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Dean Roberts

Dean is a Minister in the Anglican Church. Currently he is Curate in the parishes of Bedwas, Machen, Michaelston-y-Fedw and Rudry in South Wales. He was born and bred in Wales, is married to Megan, and has two dogs called Taliesin and Melyn, and two cats named Sinsir and Hâf. He graduated from Cardiff University with a BA Hons. in Theology & Religious Studies, and has studied for an MA in Theology, Ministry & Mission at Trinity College Bristol. He also holds a Cert.RSCM from the Royal School of Church Music. He loves playing music, walking, reading, blogging and horse riding as well as going to the cinema and theatre. Read More @ http://deanroberts.net/about