I knew when we started this venture of an online campus church that this question was going to be asked. I think the idea of a ‘virtual’ congregation seems to some like blasphemy. At first, I too was a little concerned. How do people who come together for Church over the internet connect in a real, genuine, life transforming kind of way? I will admit that this medium may make those kinds of connections harder, yet isn’t the purpose of real, genuine, and intimate connection to touch the heart in a way that causes transformation? If it is, then let’s face it, a lot of us have had plenty of physical contact with people yet likely have very few that have touched our hearts in a meaningful way.
Technology, at first, always causes a certain amount of resistance, skepticism, and cynicism. I would imagine when messages began to be preached over the radio or viewed on T.V., there were those who spoke against it and felt it threatened the Biblical ideal of Church. Church online is the next step in this development, and, for some, seems no less threatening. However, I would contend that each of these technologies can help reach people, in a way that wasn’t possible before.
I believe that there will be a direct correlation between those who are against this medium for Church and those who just don’t get the idea of social networking in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, I think anything which is good and can be used for God’s glory, can also be misused and used for the devil’s destructive purposes. No better example of this can be seen than the use of the internet itself, but why not reclaim the good and use it to help reach people in a way that might otherwise not be possible…for God’s glory. Is Church online not in keeping with the Apostle Paul’s desire to contextualize the gospel so that as many as possible might be reached ‘by all possible means’? (1 Cor. 9:19-23, Rom. 11:14, Acts 17:16ff.)
This past week was the official launch of our Online Campus. We were blown away not only by the number of people who joined us, but even more by the responses of those who attended. Here is a sampling of what we heard…
One man wrote- “Saw a friend’s post on Facebook about this place. Thought I’d come on before I have to work and I have to say I feel blessed. Something has awoken inside me that I haven’t felt in a long time. Thank all of you for being here and doing this.”
A lady after worshiping online said-“It has inspired me and connected me with the author of my life.”
A lady with a physical disability said-“ I just wanted to thank you for the services today. I am very grateful for this new form of outreach. Because of severe spinal arthritis, I cannot sit for long periods of time plus it is not always easy for me to travel, as driving and walking can be huge obstacles. God bless you all.”
One Couple Commented- “Thank you for starting Fellowship Online! My wife and I are members at Fellowship and moved in April. We have had a hard time finding a church home till now. WE ARE HOME!! Perhaps someday there will be a pastor to lead a campus here! I can only hope!! For the first time I have cried in joy again at receiving God’s Word.”
Is Church Online a good idea? I’d say it’s a great idea! I know of some who plan to get several people together to watch the services in what could be described as a new form of home church. Could it be possible that Church Online won’t at all lead us away from Christ’s desire for His body, but rather will lead us even closer to the First Century model of Church we see in the book of Acts?
That’s my take…what’s yours? I’d love to hear your thoughts.