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A Generation Is Waiting
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E-MIN Founder
Randall Vaughn

By Randall Vaughn
"If we do not reckon with this tool and reach them NOW, we will soon realize, sadly -- too late, that we have lost a generation."

Contrary to popular opinion, the Internet is not like a highway with ribbons of concrete, neat white lines, and everyone knowing the rules.

It is more like water - fluid and dynamic - a digitized flow of human culture, from pornographic pools to swift political currents to sharp narrow minded reefs.

And like water, the Internet can potentially be a dangerous place, with deadly rip tides, hidden depths, and alluring whirlpools that could drown you unless you know how to safely navigate around them.

2 out of every 3 online are viewing pornographic material

Why is it important to understand the Internet?

Consider: At any given time, even this very moment, according to recent estimates, 2 out of every 3 online are viewing pornographic material. The sale of new computers has now outpaced the sale of new television sets. One half of all Internet users now say they prefer to use e-mail instead of the telephone and 75% expect more people to know their e-mail address than their phone number. Almost 44 million children ages 2 to 17 will be using the Internet.

American children and young adults from 12-24 were asked,

"If you had to choose between giving up all of the televisions in your home or giving up your Internet access at home, which would you rather give up first?"

47% chose to KEEP THE INTERNET and give up television.

"There is an entire generation ...that never knew life before the Internet"

"Children are pouring onto the Net. One of the main reasons is parents believe the Internet is an important tool for their children's learning and development." Peter Grunwald, President of Grunwald Associates.

"It may seem hard to believe, but there is an entire generation of Americans growing up that never knew life before the Internet. These online kids (ages 6 to 11) are on the leading edge of the youth market, ...the ones who are driving trends across industry segments. Advertisers need to understand not only what makes them tick, but also which media outlets best reach them." Steve Carnevale, Gen. Mgr., Simmons Market Research Bureau.

The world recognizes the potential of this generation and is already reaching out to them.

If we hope to reach them with the message of Jesus Christ, considering this mounting evidence, it is no longer a matter of IF we are going to harness the potential of the Internet for ministry but WHEN.

Can we afford to miss this opportunity?

There was a generation that grew up with radio. The church did not recognize that potential or seize it early on.

There was a generation that grew up with television. The church's response was equally complacent at first.

We must not procrastinate now with the Internet!

If we miss THIS opportunity, we will be in the unfortunate role of trying to play catch-up, while others who do not share the values and truths we cherish have already marked the territory, and turned this generation even further away from God. AND THAT IS THE BOTTOM LINE!

But understand this:  While this virtual world is comprised of technology: computers, websites, and graphics, the people who live, move, and work in this virtual world are REAL. The consequences of their decisions and actions in this virtual world are REAL.

Today's generation is unlike any before them -- a people that defines their existence and meaning in digital media. They acquire their information and interact with the world in a way unique to anything we have ever known before. AND THEY ARE NOT GOING AWAY.

A recent Round Table Group survey said,

"The Internet is quickly displacing older media such as television and newspapers as the prime source of important information for America's young adults."

Peter Silsbee, Director of Youth Research for Harris Interactive, said,

"This generation is growing up inside a unique and fast-moving media, communications and entertainment space".

Other surveys report:

"Children under age 17 spend more time surfing pornographic Internet sites than they do gaming sites or other entertainment sites, and 21% of those are age 14 or under.

"More than 3 million children in America visited a pornographic web site in September 2000."

 If we do not reckon with this tool and reach them NOW, we will
 soon realize, sadly -- too late, that we have lost a generation

If we delay, we could lose the opportunity altogether.

If we allow those who do not share the values and truths we cherish to continue unopposed on the Internet, THEY, and not WE, will write the rules of the future of the Internet.

We have seen that happen in government. We have seen it in business and other media. We MUST NOT allow that to happen here.

Where do we begin?

So, where do we begin and how does it work?

It begins with a vision -- the revelation of a call and mission from God.

It works by proven principles, and we have already seen these principles at work in the Church before -- in the most dynamic and explosive period of growth the church has ever experienced.

Stated in an article in the New Yorker by Adam Gopnik,

"The primitive Church was a kind of Internet itself, which was one of the reasons it was so difficult for the Roman Empire to combat it. The early Christians understood that what was most important was not to claim physical power in a physical place, but to establish a network of believers".

See the potential!

The opportunity is in our hand and a generation needs our response. This vast thundering flow of information in this ever-expanding virtual world IS the greatest opportunity for ministry that has ever existed on this planet.

 A generation is waiting. 

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