Influence Of Media Evangelism On Spiritual Growth And Faith Formation

Project and Seminar Material for Theology and Biblical Studies

Influence Of Media Evangelism On Spiritual Growth And Faith Formation


Abstract


Today, media pervades the daily life of many people including the faith of the youth. the objectives of this research were threefold. Firstly, this inquiry sought to explore how Christians in Abuja used media. Secondly, the research endeavored to examine the extent to which Christians in Abuja used media for peer evangelization. Thirdly, this exploration strove to identify the challenges Christians in Abuja faced when sharing the gospel message on media. The research adopted a descriptive design and employed a questionnaire to collect data. The researcher purposively chose the archdiocese of Abuja due to its cosmopolitan nature. However, the study was limited to Kiambu and Abuja Central deaneries within the archdiocese of Abuja. Through a multistage sampling method, a sample size of 267 was randomly sampled. The response rate was 97.3 percent. Data from the respondents was collected. Thereafter, the researcher sorted, coded and analyzed it using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) Microsoft software version 26. The findings indicated that the respondents were active consumers of media and used media chiefly to communicate with friends. WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram in that order appeared as the most popular media among the respondents. The study also indicated that to a great extent the respondents used media for peer evangelization. The study recommends that all Catholic youth chaplains in Abuja should receive formal training in the use of media. Once trained, they could eventually help the youth in packaging faith content on media in a manner that captivates the audience.


Table of Content


Chapter One:

Introduction

  • 1.1 Background of the Study
  • 1.2 Statement of the Problem
  • 1.3 Purpose of the Study
  • 1.4 Objectives of the Study
  • 1.5 Research Questions
  • 1.6 Test of Hypothesis
  • 1.7 Significance of the Study
  • 1.8 Assumptions of the Study
  • 1.9 Limitations and Delimitations of the Study
  • 1.10 Definition of Terms

Chapter Two:

Literature Review

  • 2.1 Theoretical Framework
  • 2.2 Conceptual Review
  • 2.3 Empirical Review
  • 2.4 Summary

Chapter Three:

Research Methodology

  • 3.1 Research Design
  • 3.2 Target Population
  • 3.3 Population
  • 3.4 Sample Size
  • 3.5 Sampling Techniques
  • 3.6 Data Collection Instruments
  • 3. 7 Data Collection Procedures
  • 3.8 Pretesting
  • 3.9 Validity and Reliability
  • 3.10 Data Analysis and Presentation
  • 3.11 Ethical Considerations

Chapter Four:

Data Analysis and Result Presentation


Chapter Five:

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

  • 5.1 Summary
  • 5.2 Conclusion
  • 5.3 Recommendation
  • REFERENCES
  • APPENDIX 

Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background of the Study

Evangelization or preaching the Gospel is the Church’s main task and priority (Dunaetz, 2019). According to Awour (2012) the work of evangelization is not reserved to the clergy alone. Conversely, the scholar observed that evangelization requires the participation of lay people, the youth included. The mandate to carry out this mission was commissioned by Jesus Christ (English Standard Version, Mathew 28:16-20). If young people cannot physically be present to be evangelized in a church or a parish, then the church has to adapt its structures to the cyberspace where contemporary Christians are found (Ojemen, 2018).

Consequently, the importance of media in the transmission of the Christian faith to today’s youth cannot be overemphasized.

Zsupan-Jerome (2014) argued that from apostolic times, the Church has been preoccupied with how to announce the Gospel. Mawrie (2015), also posited that preceding generations of Christians have used various means to evangelize. The apostles were very much itinerant preachers (Luke 9: 6). St Paul preached in synagogues by word of mouth (Acts 16: 2). Additionally, he employed letters (1 Corinthians 1: 1-3) the medium of the day and communicated the word of God to the Christian communities he founded (Tarimo, 2016).

In the era of the Church fathers, evangelization was carried out in a similar manner (Nwankwo, 2017). They wrote letters to particular churches under their care. With the advent of the printing press by Johann Gutenberg in 1450, the Church saw print media as a tool for evangelization (Borg & Sultana, 2015). Equally, these researchers observed that when broadcast media came into being, the church adopted it for evangelization purposes. In the age of media, the Church’s hierarchy has directly and indirectly encouraged the faithful to use media for evangelization (Bolu, 2012). This study therefore sought to find out how young Catholics in the Archdiocese of Abuja integrate media in their faith life and peer evangelization.

Media and Evangelism in the Modern Era

Pope Paul VI (1975), recognized then that the church was living in an era marked by the mass media or social communications. He also noted that the work of evangelization could not do without the means of mass media (Section, 45). Furthermore, Pope John Paul II (2005), encouraged the Catholic faithful and its hierarchy not to be afraid of new technologies (Section, 3). In the same breath, Pope Benedict XVI (2008), emphasized the fact that the new media were changing the very face of communication and saw this as an opportunity for the spreading of the Gospel message of justice and solidarity (Section, 2). Put differently and as Ojemen (2018), suggested the Church’s documents on social communication appreciate and have a positive outlook on the digital culture.

Olusola (2015), submitted that communication is a human activity. He suggested that human beings are cultural and religious. The researcher also revealed that the Christian mission entails communication of God’s word in a given cultural environment. The present cultural milieu he noted, is saturated with various media formats. According to Bridges (2013), down the ages, Catholic Popes have always reiterated the importance of embracing the means of communication. Dyikuk (2019), observed that the Catholic Church’s slow inertia in embracing media is more in its praxis than in its teaching.

On the other hand, Pope Benedict became the first Pope to open a twitter account on 12 December 2012. Pope Francis has basically extended the teaching of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI on the importance of media in the Church’s life. He has continued to handle the twitter account, @Pontifex. As at 31 March 2021, the Pope’s twitter account had 18.9 Million followers. He uses his twitter account among other things to communicate his schedule, disseminate Christian messages and his stance on world events. Going by the sheer number of his followers, Pope Francis’ twitter account is a success (Narbona, 2016).

Admittedly, modern means of communication pose challenges to established cultures and religions Olusola (2015). Nonetheless, the scholar opined that media can be implored to advance Christianity and societal values. Dyikuk (2019), argued that the many nominal Catholics who only attend mass at Christmas, Easter and New Year celebrations can be reached via media platforms. The researcher suggested that priests can post liturgical readings and their homilies online, for nominal Catholics to use.

Dyikuk (2017), submitted that the church must take to the various media platforms where modern-day Christians are and pass on to them the Christian message plus the Church’s teachings. Media and the current digital culture as such are not a problem but an opportunity for the church to spread the good news of Jesus Christ to the ends of the world today (Ruiz, 2014). In Tanzania, Tarimo (2016), did an analysis of media among the youth in the Catholic Diocese of Moshi and the implications for youth faith sharing. His study revealed that there is an extensive use of media as a faith strengthener.

Conversely, social mobility poses a big challenge to the traditional method of evangelization in Abuja which requires the recipients’ physical presence in churches (Tutu & Oppong, 2017). If many Christians in the Archdiocese of Abuja are absent in churches then the values of reconciliation, justice, peace and community building, the content of the church’s evangelizing mission are not being inculcated in them (Kunonga, 2015). If this problem is not combated, society may suffer the continuation of conflicts, injustices, violence and underdevelopment. This would be the case since peacebuilding is key to society’s social and economic development (Munyua & Mutukaa, 2016) as are the Christian values. Therefore, it is an urgent need that the current study addressed this gap by examining the use of media to promote their spiritual life.

Gibson (2019), put forward the view that modern technology has a strong grip on Nigerian Christians and by extension the Christians in the Archdiocese of Abuja. The scholar also underscored the idea that Christians not only emulate but effectively absorb the value system advocated through media.


1.2 Statement of the Problem

Today, media and new technologies permeate all facets of our life (Murumba & Omuya, 2017). The use of media is also a shared experience for the 21st century Christians (Nduka & McGuire, 2017a). However, previous studies have mainly focused on Christians use of media for leisure and entertainment activities (Acun, Yücel, Belenkuyu & Keleş, 2017) investigated how Christians engage politically on media.

Inevitably, Christians rampant use of media is shaping their values, practices and essential nature (Elofson, 2014). Reeves and Crowther (2019), pointed out online grooming of Christians for sexual exploitation and radicalization as a global issue that needs to be addressed. The adverse influence of media on young people can be countered if the Church is present Online and disseminates positive content Mawrie (2015). Compared to Pentecostal Churches, Danaan (2016) observed that the Catholic Church blooms on its numerical muscle and sacramental reserves rather than on the use of mass media. Citing the Arlington SDA Church, Texas in the USA, their study revealed that the Arlington Church’s website has dedicated a platform for reaching out to young adults. Amanze and Wogu (2015) studied the inclusion of the internet as an approach for evangelization in Nigeria.Tarimo (2016) argued that the church’s hierarchy in the Diocese of Moshi in Tanzania besides encouraging the youth to become Online evangelizers can take advantage of the youth’s extensive use of media and reach out to them with the gospel message. On the other hand, his study does not tell us how the youth can use media for peer evangelization.

Wachege and Langat (2019), revealed that the high rate of social mobility in the Archdiocese of Abuja has adversely affected evangelization. Media has also replaced traditional African society as a transmitter of values society. Similarly, Gibson (2019) suggested that the Catholic Church in the Western Deanery of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja should embrace media if she has to transmit effectively the Christian faith to the Christians and build their faith.

The Church has no option but to engage with her faithful Online (Dyikuk, 2017). The scholar observed that among these faithful are the youth whom the Church should target because they are the major drivers of the growth of media. The matter becomes how evangelism can better influence the Christians in building their faith and spiritual growth.


1.3 Purpose of the Study

The purpose of this study was to examine influence of media evangelism on spiritual growth and faith formation


1.4 Objectives of the Study

  1. To explore how Christians in Abuja use media.
  2. To examine the extent to which Christians in Abuja use media for evangelization.
  3. To identify the influence of media evangelism on spiritual growth and faith formation.

1.5 Research Questions

  1. How do Christians use media in Abuja?
  2. To what extent do Christians use media for peer evangelization in Abuja?
  3. What is the influence of media evangelism on spiritual growth and faith formation?

1.6 Test of Hypothesis

H0 the influence of media evangelism on spiritual growth and faith formation is not significant.


1.7 Significance of the Study

The findings of this study will contribute to the body of research in this field and also serve as a reference point for future research in this growing field. Additionally, this survey will give an African approach to the New Media theory framework based on researched evidence.

This study’s findings could also help the Catholic Church not only in Abuja but also in Sub-Saharan Africa to plan and maximize on the opportunities of media for evangelization today. This could ensure that the Church moves with the signs of the time.


1.8 Assumptions of the Study

The study was conducted under the following assumptions:

That Christians in Abuja are active users of media. Further, being online they are expected to use media for evangelization too.

Media aids evangelization just as the advent of traditional media affected the work of evangelization. The task of this study was to unveil how young people can better use media for evangelization.

The Christians in Abuja would be honest and volunteer their experience with media in relation to evangelization.


1.9 Limitations and Delimitations of the Study

One of the major limitations of this study was the scarcity of local researched materials on this subject in Abuja. The researcher got through this by utilizing findings from other contexts in which media and evangelization have been studied.

Another limitation was that the researcher being a Catholic priest maybe was seen as coming to pass a moral judgment on the respondents regarding their interaction with media.. To address this limitation, the researcher explained the purpose of the study to the respondents before administering the questionnaires. He stated clearly that this was purely a scientific inquiry whose findings would benefit the church itself and not pass a moral judgement on the respondents. The researcher also assured the respondents of confidentiality and possibility to withdraw from the survey without any ramifications.


1.10 Definition of Terms

Media:

Flanigan & Obermier (2016) define media as means of transmitting and/or sharing information electronically with others.

Evangelization:

Evangelization is defined in varied ways. Etymologically, evangelization is derived from the Greek word euagglion (Gospel or Good news

Church:

This term can mean a physical building where Christian worship takes place or theologically the body of Christ that is persons who share the same


Chapter Five


Discussions, Conclusions and Recommendations

5.1 Conclusion

The findings reflect the basic tenets of the Second Media Age enshrined in the New Media Theory. One of these tenets is that media exemplifies the Media’s transformative potential since it provides technologies that facilitate interactivity and collaboration among users thereby permitting them to build communities and share content (Kimmerle, Moskaliuk, Oeberst & Cress, 2015).

The study also concludes that to a large extent, Christians in Abuja seem to use media to strengthen their faith. The majority of the respondents (45.2 percent) appear to spend two to five times per week on media sharing their faith mainly bible passages. Generally, the study also concludes that media appears to have helped the respondents to faith in Jesus Christ.

However, there seems to be challenges that are hampering Christians’ efforts in Abuja as the endeavour to evangelize their peers. The study shows that top on the list is lack of inspiration to share faith on media with their peers. As explained earlier, this challenge seems to be linked to the other two identified main challenges namely lack of feedback and poor biblical and theological preparation.

Therefore, there is an urgent need for the Catholic chaplaincy being the case study should organize basic trainings in bible and theology for the respondent. Empowered respondents can then be inspired to share their acquired faith knowledge on media. Eventually good content could also stir up


5.2 Recommendations

The study made the following recommendations:

The study revealed that most Christians in Abuja use media to communicate with their friends. Furthermore, Television is the most popular media platform among Christians in Abuja followed by Social media and Radio. However, other findings seem to suggest that Social media is the most frequented media among the respondent. It seems media’s popularity depends on different variables other than age. Audience research could be the way to go here. In the context of networked and interactive communication such as media, the traditional mass audience as envisioned in the New Media Theory is not sustainable (Holmes, 2009). Therefore, as Dankasa (2017) suggested, the present study also recommends an audience and evidence based approach that should see the church in Abuja adopt media according to the needs of its members.

Lastly, this study recommends that all Catholic respondent chaplains in Abuja should receive formal training in the use of media. Once trained, they could eventually help the respondent in packaging faith content on media in a manner that captivates the audience. Formal training in the use of media could also enable respondent chaplains in the archdiocese of Abuja to be effective in ministering to the respondent who are generally media savvy.


5.3 Recommendations for Further Research

The findings of this study have several implications for future research. This study contributes to knowledge on how Christians in Abuja use media for strengthening their faith. Future research could investigate the effectiveness of Television use among Christians in Abuja for peer evangelization.

The current study revealed that the respondents used various formats to faith on media, consequently, another study should do a content analysis of these formats and content therein.


Influence Of Media Evangelism On Spiritual Growth And Faith Formation


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