One of the quirky questions we ask during the interview process with ministry residents is where they get their news. This discussion always reveals things about the candidate’s cultural awareness and where they tend to seek information. I am old enough to remember the 6:00 local news followed by the national news broadcast. Other than radio and newspaper, these were the only sources of news at the time. Now we have multiple channels dedicated solely to news and it is everywhere we turn. When speaking to these young candidates, the most popular answer we get to the where do you get your news question is Facebook.
This is reflective of how much the world is changing before our very eyes. News is one example. Think about how you consume television, get sports scores, take pictures, listen to music, shop or get travel information. These are all dramatically different than how you did those things just ten years ago. Many happen on your phone and through an app.
The changing nature of media and information means we have to continue to adapt if we want to reach as many as possible. The positive aspect of these changes is that some of them are very economical and allow us to reach a more global audience. Last month, the ministry had conversations with people from over 140 different countries and for the first time ever we had more online chats come from outside the United States than from within.
This is a reminder that trying to distribute information the “old fashioned” way is only going to get you so far. We see the same trend in sharing the Gospel. We continue to see people find us and reach out to the ministry through Christian radio. However, the large majority of people we have shared the Gospel with in the past year came from online advertising, Pandora satellite radio and Facebook.
The Gospel is timeless. Where we share the message is changing and we need to be ready to adapt if we want to stay in front of culture. Sites like Facebook provide a ready-made audience that needs help and wants to talk. For all the debate over who is using and not using Facebook, it recently went over 2 billion users. The average mobile phone user now checks it fourteen times a day and spends 40 minutes looking at it.
A recent survey found that the average user has 155 “Friends” but believe only 4 would be there if they needed help. We see this reflected with loneliness being one of the most popular conversation topics that we receive. We all look for friendship, connection and meaning in different ways but it usually comes back to each of us wanting real hope. We know the one true source of hope is found through a relationship with Jesus Christ. May we continue to find the most relevant, effective and efficient means of spreading the invitation to talk about our Lord and Savior.