I’m grateful for the Internet. Via it, we can find available resources, communicate with missionaries, train international believers, and evangelize the global lost. On the other hand, here are some ways the use of the Internet has hurt the church:
- It promotes pornography use. Few of us don’t know somebody who has been caught in the addiction of pornography, including pastors and church leaders. The problem is epidemic.
- It encourages unhealthy comparisons of preachers. It’s tough to be a preacher today when anyone can quickly compare your preaching to “superstar” preachers.
- It can exacerbate conflicts quickly. Years ago, conflict spread through phone calls and letters – both that took some time. Now, you can invite an unlimited number of people into a negative conversation via email, Facebook, etc.
- It invites plagiarism. It doesn’t take much effort for pastors to find sermons on the Internet, cut and paste the material, and claim it as their own.
- It can encourage isolation. I have young adult friends who spend most of their life secluded in front of a computer screen, often missing the relational blessings God intends for us. Isolation almost always leads to trouble.
- It discourages face-to-face relationships. This point obviously connects with the previous one. The gospel is best lived out among people, but the Internet makes it possible to have friends whose voice you never hear and whose face you seldom see.
- It can incite criticism and gossip. I admit that honest critique is often needed within the church, but the Internet makes it much easier now to express that criticism with great ferocity. People will say things via email and Facebook they would likely never say face-to-face.
- It fosters a poor witness to the world. It’s not uncommon to see a public tweet or a Facebook post that speaks positively of Christ, followed by a post that contradicts the kind of life Christ expects us to live–both from the same person. It’s not surprising that the world sometimes ignores our message of the transforming power of the gospel.
Of course, I’m aware that the problem is not the vehicle we know as the Internet; rather, the problem is the people who wrongly use it. At the same time, we still need to be aware of these dangers and learn to counter them.
What would you add to this list?