Discipling Digital Natives

As Christ-followers living in a digital era, we’ve been called to use the tools of our time to communicate the Gospel in relevant ways.  Social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube now lead as robust channels in the cultural conversation.  The growth of social media has single-handedly surpassed the reach of television, publishing, and radio in a fraction of the time.

No doubt, the power and influence of social media in our daily communication tradition is here to stay.  The call upon the Christ-follower isn’t cultural, however.  It’s biblical.  And, it’s twofold: to disciple inside the church and to connect via evangelism outside of the Church.

Inside the Church, Digital immigrants (those born before the 1970’s) are called to disciple the next generation of Digital Natives (those born with iPods in their hands).  Digital Natives process and interact with information far differently than their parents and require a modified approach to discipleship.  Technology use without relevant biblical discipleship is a sure threat to the future of the Church and a forfeit of kingdom influence here on earth.

Yet, for generations, the Church has prayed for insight, access, and opportunities to engage in conversations with the lost.  We must recognize that today’s digital access is an answer to those prayers and that we must act on that blessing.  Today, millions are pulling back a curtain on their lives and inviting us in through technology.  For the first time in history, we can literally reach “the ends of the earth” with a click.  Should we treat this opportunity with prayerful, digital savvy, we may find these to the fruitful days of reaching and then discipling people. 

To seize such a (wired) time as this, the Body of Christ must work in the digital space together and leverage our collective influence as leaders in society.  Only then can we effectively communicate the hope and love of Jesus Christ, both inside the Church and to a world that desperately needs it.

**Toni Birdsong is the co-author of “@stickyJesus: how to live out your faith online”, a field guide that equips and inspires Christians to make a kingdom impact in their societal networks.


Reflection Points

  1. How is the Digital Age affecting the way we read the Bible?
  2. Given the proliferation of digital devices and access to information, is it more or less important to read the Bible in community with other Christians?
  3. What ways can we cultivate appetite for God in this Digital Age?