Internet preachers rise as more worshipers migrate online
With more than 800,000 followers on Facebook, Chicago-based internet preacher and U.S. Army veteran, Marcus Rogers, has an audience on social media that's much greater than popular established churches like Rick Warren's Saddleback Church, and is just about 300,000 shy of Joel Osteen's Texas-based Lakewood Church's 1.1 million followers.
"I am just a nobody trying to tell everybody about somebody who can save anybody! His name is Jesus," Rogers, who turns 33 next month, boldly declares in the introduction to his page which you must follow in order to get the latest updates.
With one click his latest words of wisdom for Christian living are delivered in written posts and videos which often rack up millions of views.
"People choose to follow people who are portraying the version of Christianity that they are comfortable with," he warned in a veiled shot perhaps about the growing and diverse industry of internet preachers and online ministries. "Everybody claiming to be a Christian isn't a Christian. Everyone claiming to have a word [from] God doesn't really have one. It's dangerous to just follow anybody claiming to be a Christian."
In recent years, various social platforms and other online technology amplified the voices of a variety of controversial internet preachers ranging from more conservative ones like Rogers, to the profane like, "The Cussing Pastor," Thaddeus Matthews. And as the population of the unchurched continues to grow, some church experts say their data reflect a growing engagement among the faithful with ministries online, with some even choosing to fellowship exclusively on the internet.
Lucinda Rojas Ross, central team leader of communications at the Craig Groeschel-led Life.Church, which spans 32 campuses in 10 states, says since starting their Church Online platform more than 10 years ago, engagement has grown exponentially.
"Our decision to create Church Online in April 2006 was driven out of our heart to reach people where they are. At Life.Church, we believe God has called us to use the technology available to us today to spread the Gospel to as many people as we can. There are more than 7 billion people on this Earth, and as long as there is one hurting person who doesn't know Christ, we know our job isn't done," Ross shared with The Christian Post in a recent statement.
"Life.Church Online has allowed us to reach people who likely would have never walked through the doors of a church building. Beyond what we ever could have hoped or imagined, lives are being transformed around the globe. And we continue to see that number increase over time. So far this year on average, we're reaching more than 500,000 people each week through Church Online, which includes live.life.church, Facebook, YouTube and Twitch," she added.
She explained that Life.Church's online community is made up of different types of people including those who: are outside the physical reach of the church; prefer to explore their interest in spirituality in an online context; people who are a part of our church, but are looking for an option to worship together because they are traveling or displaced, and people who prefer to experience much of their community in an online context.
"Though community and fellowship looks different in an online environment, we've found that many people are more open and feel more comfortable sharing details that they might hesitate to share in face-to-face conversations," she said.
Read more from, "Internet preachers rise as more worshipers migrate online," on The Christian Post.