With an estimated 70% of Americans using social media on a daily basis, a vast opportunity exists to use technology as a tool to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. However, this burgeoning mission field is also replete with material that runs contrary to the Gospel. To help combat this situation, Bethel Church, a local church in Redding, CA, has created the Bethel School of Technology. Part of the motivation behind this is that a large percentage of social media posts and programs are created by individuals that have either no interest in, or harbor a direct animosity for, the truths of God’s Word. Bethel Church’s pastor and School of Technology founder Kris Vallotton commented that the church began to purposefully think about shifting the mindset of social media communities and shifting the mindset of society as a whole. Since the social media phenomenon is ultimately an expression of the way people think about themselves and their lives, and the world of information technology is the means by which electronic expression and commerce take place, these areas seemed like natural mission fields for the church. According to the church, this outreach is intended to equip IT professionals who want to combine technical training and spiritual growth to bring both excellent workplace skills and biblical values to leading social media companies.
Faith-Based IT Boot camp
The curriculum is described as a 33-week online “faith-based boot camp” designed to equip “kingdom-minded believers with the most in-demand tech skills,” according to Bethel Tech’s CEO Ryan Collins. According to the school’s website, their mission is to send highly skilled believers into the marketplace who maintain a spirit of excellence in their field of choice. The school asserts that they are equipping students to carry the presence of God into their work environments serving some of the finest companies in the world, while profoundly creating a positive impact on these organizations. The Bethel School of Technology program intends to raise up the best and brightest in the technology world, and train them to demonstrate the wisdom, character, and power of God sending them into areas of great need. Vallotton considers social media platforms and the realm of information technology to be these areas of great need. Vallotton said, “We got this idea – what if we raise up digital missionaries and what if we sent them like we send people to Africa and India – some of these dark places,” adding that some of the darkest places on the planet are not geographic areas but social groups such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Relevant Bible Passages
The speed at which technology has advanced and the degree to which it is being embraced in our everyday lives is amazing. Many prophecy teachers point to the Book of Daniel for insight into our rapidly changing world. In one verse, the Lord told Daniel to seal up the words of his prophecy “even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” (Daniel 12:4 KJV). Thus, as we increase the sheer amount of knowledge available at the fingertips of everyone through their computers, and the overwhelming ability people now have to instantly share details of their lives with others around the globe through social media, we could be witnessing what was described in the Bible over 2,000 years ago! I have often said that computers and internet / information technology are wonderful opportunities that the Lord has blessed us with so that we can use them – as we would any other tool – for His glory. The actions of Bethel Church in Redding, CA certainly seem to be embracing this idea and expanding it to reach those who are on the front lines of developing technology! We should pray their efforts succeed.