Book Review: The New Media Frontier by John Mark Reynolds and Roger Overton

by on November 12, 2008

The New Media Frontier: Blogging, Vlogging, and Podcasting for Christ, ed. By John Mark Reynolds and Roger Overton. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2008. 254 pp. $16.99.

The New Media Frontier (TNMF) is a call to arms for the Christian where it concerns the use of technology. This book is directed at any Christian who uses a computer, especially those who blog. The book begins with the oft quoted statement (changed somewhat), “It is the best of times. It is the worst of times.” Those reading this review immediately know what is being implied in regards to TNMF. Every search in a search engine runs the risk of pornography. However, the Internet can most certainly be used for Kingdom purposes as is evidenced by this website and others like it.

TNMF is a series of papers divided into two parts. The first part is called “The Landscape of New Media” and offers an introduction to things like blogging and podcasting. Matthew Lee Anderson offers three dangers to accepting this new media uncritically: desensitization, the deficiencies of online communication, and losing reality by sitting in front of our computer screens.

The second part of TNMF is how to engage the new media. With chapters topics like youth ministry and facebook and virtual classrooms and evangelism and apologetics, this section of the book is like one of those Time Life do-it-yourself series (before DIY was cool!) offering up tips and advice on how to use the Internet for the glory of God.

Each author does a decent job of providing the pros and cons to the use of TNMF. They caution against getting carried away with this new resource and to be mindful of Who is reading. One statement in the book that I thought was of special interest was at the end of the chapter on pastors and the new media. “Blogging turned out to be, like most pastoral efforts, hard work with limited rewards (at least this side of heaven).” (p. 136)

If you are reading this review, then you should read this book. Because the Internet is here to stay, we must all as Christians, and even more so as ministers, become conversant with what is being called the New Media. Yes, it does have its evil side, but it also has its good side. It is our job, I believe, to use this resource for the purpose of the Kingdom, but to do so in a discerning and critical way. This book will be a good start to becoming just that.