You are probably here because of the online missionary work post on our site. I hope you are already anxiously engaged in this work. I also hope you know what to look out for as you do online missionary work. Here are 4 reasons why online missionary work is SO important:
1. The Internet is Powerful
The internet is very powerful. Duh. I don’t need to convince you of this, but check this out:
- There are now over 2.4 billion internet users in the world. In 2000, there were only 360 million. The internet is incredibly pervasive today. Duh. 1
- 4.7 billion searches happen on Google alone every day. Almost half of those happen from a mobile device. 2
- Over 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute (that’s 35.7 weeks every hour and 16.47 years of video every day) – of those videos uploaded, 4.4 million hours of YouTube videos were watched on facebook alone every day (thats 500 years worth of video per day!) 3
- In 2011 Google Maps helped direct users across 12 billion collective miles saving 2 years of travel time per day 4
- Over 46 million apps are downloaded per day in the apple app store. Over 50 billion apps have been downloaded to date on apple’s app store with another 25 billion on GooglePlay (the android marketplace). 5
- 1 billion pieces of content (photos, videos, news stories, web links) are shared on facebook each day and 250 million photos are uploaded daily with its now 845 million active users. 6
- Twitter has over 255 million monthly active users and there are over 175 million tweets sent per day. 7
- LinkedIn has over 150 million active users. 8
- Last but not least, Google+ now has 540 million monthly active users and is growing fast. 9
I don’t need to convince you. But that is a lot of activity on the internet every single day. It’s where people are. And it’s where we can focus our efforts to find more people who are seeking.
2. To Hasten the Work, Truth needs to “Go Viral”
All the above is pretty interesting information and will likely be completely different in just a few months. 10 The point is: hundreds of millions of people are on the internet everyday. What if some of those (say 10% of all internet users) came in contact with truth through the Church or some other member-created site or post? Think of it. 10% of 2.4 billion. 240,000,000 contacts! When I was a missionary walking around on the streets of Chile, even making 100 good contacts a day in a very busy street or park is a HUGE accomplishment! Let’s say there is a golden day of missionary work around the world and let’s just say that the current number of missionaries (reported in April 2014 General Conference) really happened: (83,035 full-time missionaries serving in the field). So:
83,000 talking to 100 people each (200 per companionship).
That is still only 8.3 million people.
And anyone who has served a mission knows that 100 contacts a day rarely happens, even in Chile or Brazil or Temple Square. So what about the internet? We shouldn’t rely solely on-foot contacts to spread the good news of the Gospel. I’m not saying that on-foot missionary work is less effective or that we shouldn’t keep sending missionaries into the world. Let’s get even more serving! What I am saying is that there are millions of people who are looking for truth AND who are online everyday.
I would like to start a movement.
Not just a blogpost. A movement. There are hundreds of millions of people on the internet. Why not take advantage of the power that the internet gives us to share the gospel?
3. Because Millions of People are Already Looking
There are millions of people seeking for answers. They are asking Google instead of asking God. But we can point them in the right direction.
The Church is doing a great job already with what they have on their official sites. In fact, lds.org and mormon.org usually rank high on the first page of any Google search for “church” and they have for years. Even Avinash Kaushik (a search marketing guru from Google) used The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as an example of how to do good SEO.
The Church has done some great things on a high level. And there are things that we (as everyday members) can do on a lower level to increase online exposure to truth. What the church has done is provide searchers with a place to come if they know they are looking for the Mormon Church. They have also recently done some great things with their Easter and Mother’s Day campaigns. But what if someone just wants an answer from an average everyday question about some topic they are wondering about or concerned about? This is where YOU can come in. I think for the most part, most people want to know what other people think about a product before they buy that product. Amazon sales thrive when a product has great reviews from average people who bought the product. Even if SONY had an amazing advertisement and product page (that was ranking highly on Google for “flatscreen HD TV”, you probably wouldn’t buy a TV if it had horrible reviews, right? I believe that people will approach the Church (and the answers it provides) in the same way. Even if the Church ranks very well on Google for the word “church” or for any of the topics below, people will want to read reviews and know how this church has been experienced by other real-life people before they buy into the ideas. This is where YOU come in. Elder Ballard talked about this in 2007, and you can help today:
The emergence of New Media is facilitating a world-wide conversation on almost every subject including religion, and nearly everyone can participate.
Conversations will continue whether or not we choose to participate in them. But we cannot stand on the sidelines while others, including our critics, attempt to define what the Church teaches.
The challenge is that there are too many people participating in conversation about the Church for our Church personnel to converse with and respond to individually. We cannot answer every question, satisfy every inquiry, and respond to every inaccuracy that exists. …some who seek answers want them to come directly from a member of the Church, like each one of you.
May I ask that you join the conversation by participating on the Internet, particularly the New Media, to share the gospel and to explain in simple and clear terms the message of the Restoration. Most of you already know that if you have access to the Internet you can start a blog in minutes and begin sharing what you know to be true. 11
Elder Ballard points out that the Church cannot do it all on its own and that we should all be a part of this conversation going on. I have suggested a lot of things you can do in this post about online missionary work. We need more members doing this work.
By profession, I am an online marketer. A while back I did a query on how many people were searching (on Google alone) for a few gospel related key words. Check this out:
|Keyword||Monthly [exact match] Google Searches (Global)|
|Life After Death||40,500|
|Is there a God?||18,100|
|Is there life after death?||18,100|
|Who is God?||9,900|
|What happens after death?||9,900|
|Total Monthly Searches||667,200|
This was just ONE MONTH, over a year ago. This is happening every month. This doesn’t include all the long-tail keywords (anything that has those same words in it plus other descriptives like “Will people really go to hell if they are sinners?”). The long-tail searches can easily double that total in some cases. The point is, people are looking for truth. Please click here to see a few ways you can help people find truth.
4. The Prophets and Apostles are Doing it and Inviting Us to Join Them.
They are doing it, and they are inviting us to do it. Follow them on all the social media channels they are on. Here are a few talks that have been given from apostles and other Church leaders about online missionary work:
- Elder Ballard talks about joining the conversation online.
- Elder Anderson talks about missionary work online as a part of our daily routine.
- Elder Ballard talks about sharing more online and how to be careful.
- Elder Clayton Christensen wrote about it in his book The Power of Everyday Missionaries.
- Elder Bednar gave an amazing presentation on sharing the gospel with social media here.
Please join me online to help share the gospel using this powerful tool that has been given. The Lord is hastening His work, and I personally believe that the internet is playing and will continue to play a huge roll in bringing the gospel to all the world, as the prophecies have foretold.
- See here. And please, I’m always open to updating this so if you find a better source, send it my way and I’ll update this. ↩
- See ColorfulSEO.com ↩
- See YouTube official stats page here – that facebook stat was from 2012, but it has only gone up. ↩
- See here ↩
- See here for details on Google – sorry this one is a bit dated it is HARD to keep up with these – and here for apple. ↩
- See this infographic. ↩
- See this article. ↩
- See here for more amazing facts. I know this is a bit dated, but you get the point. ↩
- See infographic above. ↩
- I just tried to update this again in June 2014 and it will change again. Please send me more info if you have it and I’ll update it! ↩
- Read more here. ↩