Many UK Christians view the internet as a mission field, and are already exploiting its potential in that regard. This is according to an online poll of 703 of them conducted during February and March 2012 and published on 24 April 2012. The survey was undertaken by Christian Vision, via bigsurveys.com, in partnership with Premier Christian Media (and in support of the latter’s New Media Centre of Excellence, which has recently launched a free training programme for church leaders on new media communications).
The sample was apparently a self-selecting one of Christians who, self-evidently, are already internet-savvy. It is, therefore, probably unrepresentative of churchgoers as a whole, and its findings should be seen as illustrative rather than definitive. In particular, respondents included disproportionate numbers of evangelicals (75%) and church leaders (43%). Denominationally, Anglicans (23%), Pentecostals (17%) and Baptists (15%) together accounted for more than half of participating Christians. There was also a predominance (43%) of 45-64s.
84% of all Christians interviewed (peaking at 94% of church leaders and 92% of the 35-44s) agreed that cyberspace is a huge mission field, with 74% disagreeing that the gospel message is too deep to be properly shared online. 65% said that they were already using social networks to share their faith in an intentional way (including 87% of 16-18s, 73% of Pentecostals, and 72% of church leaders), and 71% claimed to post links to Christian sites or content with missional values.
Social media activity was found not to be just the preserve of the young, but to be spread across the age spectrum (even among the over-65s), albeit younger people were more likely than their elders to have non-Christian friends to evangelize and were more active and more confident in sharing their faith online. Overall, the sample was four times more likely to have a majority of non-Christian friends online than offline. Despite its potential, however, only 25% said that their church encouraged online mission (compared with 59% saying that their church was generally effective in outreach and evangelism).
For Premier’s press release about the poll, an infographic of headline findings, and a link to the full data, go to: