You might not like what’s out there, but the Internet is full of very compelling content that is competing for the hearts and minds of the very people you are trying to reach. A quick Google search instantly brings up an illustrated, step-by-step process to melt cocaine into crack with tips on when and where and how to smoke it with expectations on how you’ll feel before, during and after the process. Yeah … I’m serious.
We could complain all day long about how terrible this is and wonder aloud why this type of content is even legal. You could point the finger at President Obama for doing nothing, Al Gore for even creating the Internet in the first place, or Google for so effectively finding just what people are looking for, but that web page and the millions like it that are leading people away from God are not going away. Period. In fact, more pages like it and worse are being created while you read these words.
Elementary school kids are learning how to hang themselves with sheets and extension cords in the privacy of their bedrooms. Husbands and wives are learning how to have an affair and not get caught. College students are learning the latest cheating methods in order to pass their exams.
This content is loud. It’s clear. It’s simple. It’s instructive. And it’s meeting a very real demand that’s out there. IGNORing it is IGNORant and we, as leaders of this and future generations, have two ways we can respond. It’s all about supply and demand.
1. We can supply superior, compelling Internet content that purposefully competes against the dangerous and destructive content that is already out there. Our story is better. Our solutions last longer. Our God is stronger. In essence, we can see this action is a contemporary way of feeding the hungry.
If our mission is to find hurts and heal them, we’re going to have to be present where hurting people live online, and it’s not your wonderful church website.
When an 11-year-old boy searches the ‘net for how to commit suicide, our compelling content has to come up first (and second and third and fourth, for that matter) in the search engine. It has to arrest his attention and provide him with alternatives.
When an addict wants instructions for a new fix, or a husband wants some pointers for a secret affair, or a student wants to find a YouTube video to help them cut corners, our content has to be there in the mix.
2. While competing with the supply of compelling but destructive content is necessary, nothing works better than ruining the demand for it in the first place. This mission won’t be easy and will require some serious strategic planning and vision-mapping if we are to effectively lessen or eliminate the demand for poison on the Internet, but not trying at all shouldn’t be an option.
In essence, this step is not feeding the hungry, but communicating to the hungry that what they are thirsting or hungering after is nothing compared to God. Relaying to people that they need something that they may not know they need is not an easy task, but it’s what the Church is called to do.
Who do you envision as your competitors in the creation and promotion of compelling online content? Other ministry leaders? Professional gurus like Guy Kawasaki or Seth Godin? @Oprah? If so, think again!
We are in a real war for the hearts and minds of the people God has called us to reach and serve and it’s time for us to act like it! Be creative! Be courageous! Be the hands and feet of our God online!