Just Google It? Missionaries in an Internet Age

May 30, 2021Roger W. Lowther

 
Image by Esther Abraham

When I need to know something, the internet is ready to answer all my questions.

  • What is a good recipe for bread?
  • When does the store close?
  • Where can I get a COVID–19 PCR test?

If I ask someone a question, they will often say “just Google it.”

If everything is so readily available on the internet, if everything anyone would ever want to know about Christ and the church is online, do we still need missionaries?

Videos, blogs, and podcasts abound. You no longer need to step through the doors of a church to hear a sermon. Training and education, even for seminarians, has been almost 100% online for over a year now.

So, I ask again. Is there still a need for global missionaries? Perhaps missionaries are like technical support for God and the church. When people need help, missionaries can step in with live assistance from anywhere in the world using online resources.

Perhaps missionaries are like technical support for God and the church?

A growing trend in the American church toward supporting nationals over missionaries seems to point in that direction. “Locals do it better.” Why? Because they provide “technical support” in their native languages and in cultural-appropriate ways. And just as important, they can do it cheaper. In an internet age, perhaps missionaries no longer need to be physically present to assist church planting in countries around the world.

Back to the question. Why not “just Google it”? Well, when I ask someone for advice, I am not primarily seeking information. I am asking for a relationship. I want interaction with the one offering the advice, and I believe I’m not “lazy” to want and seek that relationship. All human beings are relationship–based, not information–based.

This, of course, goes for the church as well. The church is not something to be peddled and supported. People are the church, as weak and thoroughly broken as they are. If missions is about building relationships, then there is no other way to go about it but to go and meet with people.

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19)

Despite all the obvious weaknesses and faults of the church, God works through it to bring his gospel to the nations. Knowledge of God and knowledge of the church is not enough. Interaction is necessary. Community is necessary. Love is necessary.

Just Google It?

If I want information, the internet is helpful. But nothing can replace live person to person interaction. During the spread of the coronavirus, this has become abundantly clear. When it comes to global missions and planting churches, online resources are just a tool for building relationships.

God sent his son to know us and build a relationship with us. If God wanted us to “just Google it,” he would have built a website.

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