The church has always used new technologies to accomplish its mission. From our early beginnings, the Voice of Prophecy used radio to broadcast the Adventist message. This made a significant impact on many that listened.
I remember the excitement in the 90s when we were invited to the Net ‘95 evangelistic campaign. For the first time, we could now remain in our local churches. With a video projector and satellite dish, we could watch an evangelistic meeting broadcast live from the USA and participate in this global evangelistic series. This was revolutionary. The church had transitioned from using the old carousel slide projector and slides for our evangelistic campaigns to something more sophisticated.
I had always wondered how the prophecy of Jesus would be fulfilled when He said in Matt 24: 14, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all nations and then shall the end come.” Recognising that many people in different parts of the world had never heard about the good news of salvation, I struggled to see how everyone would listen to and decide before Jesus returned. Net ’95 provided a possible solution for my query. People from all walks of life can get an opportunity to hear the message of salvation through Jesus Christ. Even people living in countries antagonistic to Christianity could listen to the gospel.
For me, God was opening the doors for His message of love to be shared with the inhabitants of the Earth via satellite evangelism. It began to dawn on me the powerful effect of media and the use of new technologies to communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ. This became increasingly evident, especially during the recent pandemic and lockdown. As we could not attend face-to-face church services, we could again use new technologies to continue worshipping and fellowshipping.
Through the use of Zoom or Teams, members were able to meet regularly and hold church services. One could participate in services globally as most services were held on the Zoom platform and streamed live from their Facebook or YouTube accounts.
As a church, we used new technologies by sharing short devotional messages to full sermons from our mobile phones on platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook and YouTube. Indeed, services were even live streamed from these platforms. All these methods have proved to be a blessing. However, there have been disadvantages to using some of these new technologies. An obvious disadvantage is the lack of personal touch and fellowship. Some have become so used to being in the comforts of their homes and have resorted to staying away from the church while watching services online.
Some congregations use face-to-face and live streaming to minister to members and visitors alike. This is commendable to me. As a church, we should be on the cutting edge of using new technology to present the gospel.
Dr Emmanuel Osei is the President of the South England Conference, UK