Meditations (Web)Church

A year (and a bit) in the life of NewSpring's first Web pastor

The web church is the new reformation

with 9 comments

It was one of the remarks on Twitter from my boss Tony Morgan that was deceptively easy to glance over.

“Multi-site changes everything. Campuses on the Web changes everything else.”

It resonated with me, because from the first day I felt God calling me to explore how to be the church in the digital age, I was confident that the web church will herald a new reformation.

Those are big words. Weighty words, for sure. Maybe a tad hyperbole. But I’m serious.

In the first reformation, the technology of the printing press made it possible for any believer who could read to match up what Christ said about access to God with what the Catholic Church said about it. The “priesthood of all believers” was the result.

In the new reformation, the technology of the web has made it possible for people to be the church without “the church.” Now anyone who is part of the priesthood of all believers could, if they were very intentional, create their own, or join a pre-existing, fully Christ-centered community.

This is not about 20th-century, lone-ranger Christianity, where “private faith” is what’s important, accountability is non-existent and commitment is quaint.

I’m suggesting that we now have the tools and the conditions that could allow for a faithful believer to join himself to a self-organized community of fellow believers who intentionally devote themselves to sound teaching, perhaps through videoteaching.com, share their lives and work with common purpose, guided by the Holy Spirit, to bring the love of Jesus to the world.

Is that not theologically legitimate church? Could you not have a physical campus-less church and still be the church as Christ intended it?

What I think about often is how inefficient the current structure of the church today really is if it is supposed to be all about making disciples of Jesus.

Think about how much money is locked up in land and buildings. Think about how much money relatively small congregations spend on supporting pastors and administrative staff when they simply cannot — and don’t have to — compete with the incredible teaching resources now available online or in your corner Christian bookstore. Wouldn’t the leadership of mature believers be sufficient to provide solid pastoral guidance?

Think about how few smaller congregations are contagious about their love of Jesus.

Is the disciple-making machinery of church the worship service or the community the worship service creates?

If the technology is here, or coming soon, where sophisticated worship services can be experienced in all their intensity anywhere in HD, the real work ahead for the church is learning how to guide and manage community, the kind of authentic community that, in Acts, added to its number daily and changed the history of the world.

I think a lot is going to boil down to questions about what’s the role of the weekly service in daily worship? And how important will it be to have a weekly physical gathering spot that belongs uniquely to a specific community of believers?

Those are the kinds of weighty issues the Web Church is field-testing. Nothing less.

Thoughts?

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Written by NickCharalambous

January 30, 2009 at 12:04 am

9 Responses

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  1. Wow…this is an audacious claim filled with truth.

    I couldn’t add to this post if I tried. Mr C, The nail has been hit squarely on the head. The only thing missing from this philosophy is the human element.

    We’ll see what happens once that is added and church online fully comes to fruition.

    I’m waiting to see churches launch online without a physical campus at all. I think it will happen pretty soon if it hasn’t already.

    I want to hear, “My life was change at the First Church of Firefox.”

    Chris Hill

    January 30, 2009 at 1:15 pm

  2. Man, it’s a conversation for sure. I completely agree with your comments about church structure including buildings, land, and salaries. I think the web can certainly provide a viable alternative to that, but I also tend to believe that there is no substitution to community as experienced in person and with persons. Either way, I think that it’s great for the Church as a whole to push that envelope and use everything at it’s hand to display God’s love to everyone.

    Bish

    January 30, 2009 at 1:24 pm

  3. Bish: Thanks for the comment. I don’t think there is a substitution for the physical either. However, I do see all physical relationships being mediated online in the future. Just as suburbia changed the way we relate forever, I tend to think the web means we’ll never see or have physical friendships the same way again.

    ipiphanist

    January 30, 2009 at 3:03 pm

  4. Chris: You’re way too kind. I think the “human element”is exactly the biggest flaw in all the big talk (including by me 😉 about the web church. We just don’t know — and don’t have any data — to understand how people will behave in Christian community detached from a physical church and it’s structured programs. B

    ipiphanist

    January 30, 2009 at 3:05 pm

  5. Nick

    As a NewSpringer who knows your heart, I could not be more excited about what God is going to do!

    v

    gamecockvic

    February 2, 2009 at 12:35 pm

  6. Great questions posed here especially in regards to the role of the weekly service. For many of the churches launching web campuses (ours included) attendance at those weekly times is the key economic driver behind helping us to continue in ministry. But the desired behavior, or process that we ourselves are going through and leading through is not to come and park ourselves in the same spot each week. There is a tension that exists between the power of the gathering to build momentum and a sense of belonging, but not getting so focused on that gathering that we lose sight of why it is there, and what it always needs to be pointing to in the evangelism and discipleship process.

    Does that make sense?

    Tony Steward

    February 9, 2009 at 3:36 pm

  7. […] I couldn’t agree more. […]

  8. […] church and worship can be conducted online. He has many thoughtful posts about the issue, but this section from one in January sums up the question nicely: Could you not have a physical campus-less church […]

  9. […] of what I wrote now makes me wince because of its naivety. Some is no longer relevant given the changing online environment. But I believe some of what I […]


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