8 Ways the Internet Can Hurt the Church

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:

  1. 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.
  2. It encourages unhealthy comparisons of preachers. It’s tough to be a preacher today when anyone can quickly compare your preaching to “superstar” preachers.  
  3. 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. 
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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? 


  • Mark says:

    My comment has two sides, the good and bad. Websites expose people to different schools of thought. Growing up, people were kept out of other churches by parents and told it would lead to “people talking” if you went to another church for anything other than a wedding or funeral. Today, I can get any church service online, the sermon by podcast, and ask questions of the clergy there. I can also read blogs from and ask questions of the most conservative Christian radical to the friendly atheist and all in between. This gives people many different perspectives. I have found that the more conservative the person, the less like they are to even allow the blog comment or answer a question. This should force churches to stop worrying about their denominational polity and focus on Christianity and teaching their youth the faith and how to defend it. I am not optimistic that this will happen. Although I have been lambasted by conservative Christians for saying this, I still wish some Christians would be taught how to defend the faith.

  • Jim says:

    We created a forum that our deacons produce annually to combat issues 3, 6 and 8. Two people can send an email to everyone in their Facebook group that picks a side in (most commonly) a political issue or topic – the kicker is they can say that no “good” Christian can hold the view the other party espouses. In a matter of hours a church can be divided over an issue that – pre-Internet – most people may not ever have heard about or bothered to form an opinion on. The flaming emails and Facebook posts get ugly (as you discuss) and are posted by people who would never speak to a person face-to-face with the tone, or hurtful words they gleefully use online. All of it is witnessed by a world who we are trying to reach with the good news of a Savior God who changes us and makes a real difference in our lives. Our forum provides an avenue to look at the divisive issue – not from both sides – but from a Biblical perspective. It helps a bit.

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