EXAMINING THE IMPACT OF ICT – INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY ON THE NUMERICAL GROWTH OF A CHURCH (A CASE STUDY OF CHURCH OF GOD MISSION INT’L WOJI BISHOPRIC HEADQUARTERS RIVER STATE PORT HARCOURT)
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- BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Every day, the wheel of progress spins, resulting in immense advances in human undertakings. Man, the most intelligent species on the planet, has progressed from primitive ways of communication to very sophisticated modes of communication. New Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) are rapidly changing how we send, receive, store, and analyze messages and data. Many barriers to effective communication are being removed on a regular basis.The inevitable web of the information revolution has now enmeshed every facet of existence. Toffler (1980) stated that as a result of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs), a new civilization is growing in our lives, and blind folks everywhere are seeking to reject it. This new civilization brings with it new family kinds, new methods of working, loving, and living, a new economy, new political tensions, and, most importantly, a new consciousness. Remnants of this new society can still be discovered today. Without a doubt, ICT is rapidly constructing the rhythms of tomorrow’s fashion, and no one can stop it. Communication enhances the enjoyment and significance of life. Communication, according to McBride et al. (1980), is necessary for survival. It also directs various processes and systems of inquiry, command, and control; it creates a common pool of ideas, strengthens the feeling of togetherness through message exchange, and translates thought into action, reflecting every emotion and need from the most basic tasks of human survival to supreme manifestations of creativity-or destruction.
The arrival of the internet transformed global communication systems. This global computer network has boosted the developed world’s Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). Many media institutions, schools and colleges, businesses, and individuals in both developed and developing countries utilize the Internet (Net) on a regular basis to send and receive information within and outside their country. The “Global Village” is rapidly evolving into a “Global Parlour.” We currently live in the “e-communication” era. Our world has become one of fax machines, mobile phones, computers, satellites, videotext, telex cable, you name it, giving rise to the life of e-learning, e-business, e-trading, email, e-library, e-fund transfer, e-banking, e-conferencing, e-enterprise, e-research, and similar technologies, according to Okoro (2006). In this globalized world of computer-mediated communication and cyberspace, life and things move swiftly, and man adapts his behavior to match the velocity of change. Many nations, particularly less developed ones, are concerned about the global telecommunications industry’s expansion because they believe that what is happening now in the telecommunications sector will determine how people live in the near future, just as industrialization did in the nineteenth century. Indeed, many countries believe that telecommunications will play an important role in determining sovereignty and other national concerns in the present and future. As a result, falling behind in the “hot race” of telecommunications makes sense (Iyere, 2001).
As a human organization, the Church cannot merely observe the wide range of advances in communication technology.This is so she may manage, run, and evangelize the world’s people more effectively and efficiently. In reality, the Church must use today’s mass media to successfully carry out God’s call to “Go, teach all nations” (Matthew 28:19). Azuzu (1987) supports the claim that communication is a ministry and that it is more vital than ever in the Church today. This fact should be extremely significant to every faithful Christian in our day and age. The reaction should be demonstrated by having men and women who identify as professionals take on the enormous challenges that the Church faces in this media-saturated environment.
The numerical growth of the Pentecostal church has not kept pace with her time of birth. The church was founded in Jerusalem on Pentecost Day, 33 AD, when a small group of Christ-followers received the Holy Spirit and began speaking in various languages (Acts 2:4). The witnesses to the incident were divided on that particular day; some said that the disciples were inebriated (Acts 2:11-13).Peter (Acts 2:12-13) reported what had occurred, and around three thousand people were added to the assembly of believers; the church grew numerically by three thousand souls (Acts 2:37-41). Following that, the church grew on a daily basis, as “the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). As time passed, the Pentecostal church expanded and extended to other parts of the world, including Africa and Kenya in particular. The same Spirit that worked on the day of Pentecost and caused the church to flourish is still at work today. According to Asamoa and Gyadu (2005), Pentecostal churches emphasize salvation as a transformational event brought about by the Holy Spirit. Charismatic Speaking in tongues, visions, healing, prophecies, signs, and miracles predominate in Pentecostal church services. Though the same spirit is at work, the church has fallen short of the numerical growth that was typical of the early church. As a result, the purpose of this research is to look at some of the possible causes of this difficulty.
- STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
All aspects of human existence are undergoing major change as a result of information and communication technologies (ICTs), and these changes may be seen every day. The exciting benefits and challenging challenges that the new information revolution brings to humanity in the twenty-first century cannot be ignored by the Church. In order to govern, administer, and evangelize the populace on a daily basis, some church leaders in Nigeria, particularly those in urban areas, have taken proactive steps to use various information technology tools. One of the main causes of churches in Nigeria losing young adults and youth members is that these generations are unable to relate to the church in the proper manner. Information and communication technology (ICT) inclusion and use is a better strategy to improve this. Relationships today, as well as the skill of communication within them, are evolving at an accelerated rate. Given the distraction that comes with social media, some Christians believe that new media shouldn’t be utilized for evangelism. Again, many Christian groups have written off the Internet as some “unrighteous” entity that is evidently not suited as a channel for religious communications because of pure religious zeal, apprehension, or misinformation. As a result, they have figuratively thrown out the baby with the bathwater. Their argument is supported by the numerous vile, cruel, and immoral posts made on social media sites and the Internet. However, it might be argued that, like any other medium, how one uses Internet technology is entirely up to them. The issue is not with the media itself. Few Christian organizations, though, have embraced the Internet’s noble nature. This is presumably due to the financial commitment, as maintaining internet evangelism is too expensive. This explains why online evangelism hasn’t been adopted by smaller churches yet.The methods used today for evangelization and how they aid in spreading the gospel principles are so closely related. Therefore, in this context, the media have evolved from being merely relevant to actually being crucial to the church’s goal of evangelization.The church could stand to lose a lot as well as gain a lot. She has to communicate with the populace on gospel-related topics while also adapting this to fit contemporary reality. Here, time is of the importance. Here, speed is equally crucial (Michael, 2012). This new media-induced transformation wave has an impact on the church as well. Particularly in cases of sexual abuse in the church, one can see the consequences.
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