by Aaron Earls
Want to know how to travel on a budget or how many calories are in a cheeseburger? Just Google it.
From our computers and smartphones to our televisions and glasses, the ubiquitous search engine company has become the source we turn to when we need answers.
But what answers are we looking for? We can get an idea from Google’s 10 trending searches of 2014.
These 10 items gained the most ground when compared with searches by Americans last year. It shows which items we thought about (and searched for) most in 2014.
Why did we search for these and what can the church do about it?
Why were people searching? The Eastern European nation became a geopolitical hotspot in 2014 when Russia began invading the disputed territory on Crimean Peninsula.
What can the church do? People continue to be anxious about a large scale war with Russia or another global superpower. Comfort them with the reminder that the Prince of Peace is ultimately in control and will come to set all things right.
Why were people searching? Debuting in November 2013, Frozen was the topic of conversation in early 2014. The Disney blockbuster became the highest grossing animated movie of all time and garnered two Oscars, including one for the impossible to escape song, “Let It Go.”
What can the church do? The film captured a story of unconditional, self-sacrificial love. Don’t forget: we have the ultimate version of that story. Show how the gospel story satisfies the longings humans have.
Why were people searching? The Missouri city became a rallying cry for African-Americans and many others upset about racial injustices, after Michael Brown, a black teenager, was shot and killed by Darren Wilson, a white police officer.
What can the church do? As we wrote about in our recent multiethic issue, the Bible gives a compelling vision for diversity in the Kingdom of God. Remind your people how the gospel unites all of us and implores us to reach outside and beyond comfort zones.
Why were people searching? The Islamic terrorist group is responsible for the widespread slaughter of innocent individuals in Iraq and Syria.
What can the church do? According to Open Doors, Christian persecution reached historic levels in 2014. We are to be in prayer for our brothers and sisters who are suffering under persecution from ISIS and others around the world.
6. ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
Why were people searching? This past summer saw an explosion of viral videos of individuals dumping cold water on their heads in an attempt to raise awareness of ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and encourage donations. In one month, the ALS Association raised more than $100 million.
What can the church do? People want to be part of something bigger than themselves, but many confuse that with self-promotion. Tap into the desire to serve others in a big way, while discouraging the self-centered aspects.
5. Flappy Bird
Why were people searching? The simple smartphone game shot to the top of the app charts in early 2014, but was pulled after the creator became worried people were too addicted. During its peak period, it was earning $50,000 a day from in-app purchases.
What can the church do? Teach stewardship concepts that extend beyond money to include our time and talents as well. Christians can have hobbies and play games, but we should not be consumed by them.
4. Malaysia Airlines
Why were people searching? Last year, Malaysia Airlines lost two Boeing 777 aircraft within 131 days, with a total of 537 passengers and crew lost. One disappeared somewhere in the Indian Ocean. The other was shot down flying over the disputed area in Ukraine.
What can the church do? Grieve with those who are grieving. Remind people that though we do not understand or even know all that happens here, we rest in the fact that we worship an omniscient God.
Why were people searching? The deadly disease became an epidemic in West Africa before isolated cases spread to the U.S. and other Western nations.
What can the church do? Thank God for the work of missionary doctors, nurses, and other Christian medical-relief workers who risked their lives to fight the disease, many of whom were named as TIME‘s Person of the Year. Christians can also work to empower the people in those nations to improve their medical care and societal structures.
2. World Cup
Why were people searching? The 2014 World Cup in Brazil saw Germany capture its fourth championship in the world’s most celebrated soccer tournament. The final match between Germany and Argentina was the most watched soccer match in American history.
What can the church do? We should recognize the growing impact soccer has in our nation, which is due in part to the influx of individuals from other soccer loving countries. The world is coming to us.
1. Robin Williams
Why were people searching? The famous actor and comedian committed suicide at his home this past August.
What can the church do? Be more open and honest about mental illness, including its presence in our pews. Our mental health issue offered numerous resources and help for those looking to minister to the 1-in-4 Americans who suffer from a mental illness.
Aaron Earls (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of Facts & Trends.