Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Youth and the Internet

Church & Society in Asia Today is a journal published by The Centre for the Study of Christianity in Asia, Trinity Theological College in Singapore. Its original name was Church and Society (started 1996). This journal is published three times a year.

I have enjoyed the articles in the journal which are written by theologians, pastors and graduate students of TTC. Contents and back issues of the journal are available online here

The focus of August 2007 issue is on Youth and the Internet (with one extra article on the church in Vietnam).

The key articles are

Youth and the Internet
by Tan Te Khoon (General Secretary of the Fellowship of Evangelical Students in Singapore)

Youth and the Internet: A Pastoral Perspective
by Daniel K S Koh (Lecturer in TTC on church and society, pastoral theology and ethics)

The Church and Youth
by Dr Loo Yeow Hwa (pastoral staff worker at St. Andrews’s Cathedral Mandarin Congregation in Singapore)

The first two articles are directly related to youth and the internet while the third article is more a historical perspective of youth work in Singapore. Both authors quoted the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) survey done in 2005 and 2006 in Singapore. The summary of the 2006 IDA survey is here

Internet world stats show that 70.2 percent of North Americans population use the Internet, Oceania/Australia 55.2 percent, Europe 41.7 percent , Asia 12.4 percent and Africa 4.7 percent. Though Asia has about 12.4 percent population, this translated to about 437 million users! However in country breakdown, Malaysia has 52.7 percent population penetration while Singapore has 66.3 percent (2007). More details here.

This figures are amazingly high especially in Malaysia where our broadband goes at the speed of the dialup or slower.

No one will dispute the major role internet is playing in the life of youth. Both authors have put forth good arguments about the pros and cons of the internet, and the challenge the internet is to the church. Unfortunately, there are no suggestions of a strategy for the church to adopt to face this challenge. What is more obvious is that both authors do not seem to have much personal experiences of what the many things the internet can offer.

While it is laudable for the youth pastors to be internet savvy, it is also important that more senior leadership of the church become internet savvy. Otherwise, how are they to meet the needs of all members of their flocks? Or even to understand what the younger members of the flocks are doing?


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