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Tangled Web

by Tim O'Hearn

"Oh what a tangled web we weave..."
Sir Walter Scott

When Sir Walter Scott spoke of a tangled web, he was talking of the results of deceit. Today's "tangled Web" starts with the words "World Wide." And many use it to deceive. The "World Wide Web" is one of the tools we have not started to take advantage of in the church, with few exceptions.

While I was living in Illinois, I regularly received used issues of various computer magazines. In looking through the lists of web sites I was struck by the number of "gay and lesbian" sites listed. In addition, a whole industry has grown up developing software to keep young people from accessing pornographic sites. Even the charismatic and, especially, the premillennial denominations have a strong presence on the web. So, why is there so little of pure, first-century Christian teaching out there? Why are we lagging behind?

Unfortunately, one reason can be found in the history of the churches of Christ in America. We have so long taught, "speak where the Bible speaks and remain silent where the Bible is silent" that we have taken even that out of context. Long ago I heard someone say, "Just because the Baptists go out through the door doesn't mean we should go out through the window." We have traditionally lagged about ten years behind the denominations in using new methodologies or technologies. This was true of the bus ministry of mid-century. This is true of the internet of the end of the century. New methods and technologies are not new doctrines. We can use them.

A second reason, at least in the case of "the Web" may be that many people are still intimidated by the technology itself. It takes only about as much time to write a web page as it does to write a sermon. It's just in another language. And these days you don't even need to know the language.

Many preachers feel they don't have time to maintain a web page. It does take time. To be effective a site should be updated a couple of times a month. On the other hand, who said the preacher has to do it? If it is not the preacher's talent, surely it is someone's in the congregation. Even if it simply means transcribing the weekly sermons onto a web page, that can be effective. The web is just another way for anybody with the talent and time to teach.

Jesus said, "Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation." (Mark 16:15) Maybe we should also paraphrase it "Go into all the World Wide Web..."