The same technologies that can bring TV shows, games, maps, weather reports or porn to your smartphone are being harnessed by Christian groups who use the same web search and social media functions to conduct global digital evangelism.
When people do web searches using words such as hopelessness, fear, anxiety, suicide, or asking questions like “Who is God?” or “Is Jesus really a man?” they may receive a text or digital ad Global Media Outreach asking if they want to receive Christ as their savior and pray a sinner’s prayer.
GMO is based in Texas, but Springs resident Jeff Gowler is the ministry’s CEO. He previously worked for Focus on the Family and Every Home for Christ, a local missionary ministry that sends evangelistic workers to people’s homes.
“Every Home for Christ is an incredible organization that is doing amazing things around the world,” said Gowler. “I look at them as the ground cover, walking to homes and talking to people face to face, while Global Media Outreach is the air cover. Technology gives us the ability to reach evert nation in the world.”
Digital methods are not only cheaper than training and sending actual missionaries, but they are also able to reach people who are confined by COVID or who live in closed societies where Christian evangelists and their converts can face persecution or death.
GMO is far from the only ministry committed to digital evangelism. Others include Cru, the U.S. ministry of Florida-based Campus Crusade for Christ International, and Search for Jesus, a ministry of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. The Seventh-day Adventist denomination operates The Center for Online Evangelism, which calls the internet “the largest mission field the world has ever known”
The evangelist Billy Graham preached to an estimated 215 million people at live events, and reached 2.2 billion people via TV and other media, generating some 2.2 million decisions for Christ in his half-century-long career. But digital evangelism ministries say they’re reaching and converting far more people, and doing it faster and cheaper.
Graham’s organization says that in six years, its Search for Jesus digital outreach has reached more than 50 million people and recorded 10 million decisions for Christ.
Global Media Outreach’s numbers are even more stunning. The ministry says it has made 2 billion Gospel presentations and recorded 250 million decisions for Christ— hundreds of times more than Graham himself saw. All this is accomplished with an annual budget of $8 million (67% of that spent on theprogram), and a paid staff of only 25 people.
But some in the missionary community question whether these large number of instantaneous digital converts actually constitute spiritually regenerated believers who will remain faithful over time.
As the evangelical magazine Christianity Today reported, GMO recorded 22 million decisions for Christ in 2019, but could only track 5,244 of these believers who connected with local churches.
Gowler says GMO has worked to develop relationships with those who confess Christ, doing so largely through 3,500 online missionary volunteers speaking 50 languages.
“Currently, we have 750,000 spiritual seekers who have been in a relationship with the same online missionary for one year or longer,” said Gowler.
Gowler says the ministry is currently recruiting new missionary volunteers. (Go to https://globalmediaoutreach.com/ and click on “Get Involved.”)