According to Wikipedia, the digital divide is an economic and social inequality with regard to access to, use of, or impact of information and communication technologies (ICT). The divide within countries (such as the digital divide in the United States) may refer to inequalities between individuals, households, businesses, or geographic areas, usually at different socioeconomic levels or other demographic categories. The divide between differing countries or regions of the world is referred to as the global digital divide, examining this technological gap between developing and developed countries on an international scale.

 

I have experience with this topic in a few ways. First, we (my wife and I) deal with kids and adults at school and church who have varying degrees of access to the internet, or even computer access. It is quite obvious which ones lack the skills to find information that helps them in life. Second, I was able to see this firsthand in Haiti a few weeks ago. Third, I’m on the local library board and we are attempting to address this problem at our local branch.

 

You may think that a lack of quality internet isn’t a big deal. But I would argue that with apps like YouVersion and others that enable access to the Bible, and teaching videos, etc., the internet can be a useful discipleship tool. I’ll argue for that point another day, but roll with me for a bit. At church I can very quickly call up a teaching video from a pastor to show via apple TV in a small group setting. I’m always amazed that I blow someone’s mind when I do this. We live in the 21st century and some people still think this sort of technology is akin to magic. These are usually people who lack access to internet, and lack computer skills. While it is not my goal to teach people technology skills just for the sake of technology, I still need to teach people how to use technology to study the Bible. In a related fashion, I just set up an email funnel through our kids check-in system so that anyone who is a new entry that attends twice will get a special email from us, and anyone whose attendance wanes will get a special email. These digital systems aid discipleship on a scale beyond what is possible with the number of staff we employ.

 

People in Haiti connected with me via facebook when I was there, so I was able to leverage a trip to share the gospel into several new contacts who I attempt to disciple through digital technology. Yet, the two people who I connected with were not the only ones who I wanted to connect with. They were the ones who had access to internet on a regular basis and were digitally literate.

 

In terms of the local library, we attempt to educate people on digital literacy for the purpose of job training. We also advertise our internet connection as a service to the community. I’ve actually thought about doing this with our church internet as well. Our church utilizes a service to filter internet content available on our network, so I would feel comfortable allowing people free use of it. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject – so please leave a comment below!

One comment on “Digital Divide and Discipleship

  • Another thought…we assume that because people,especially teens, are social media savvy that they are technologically literate. Not so. Many can merely operate a smart phone but have no idea how to send a picture via email, or simply email something to themselves, or copy and paste something from the web. I think it is time for churches to open their doors to people and introduce them to the wonders, helps and dangers of the digital age. What a great place to train people. What a ministry opportunity! Often times people without Internet access are closer to a church than a library. That would be a great means of outreach. I need to ponder this more

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