Meditations (Web)Church

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

What do web campus attenders tell us about church?

with 12 comments

If there was a “bottom line” to the social revolution we’re seeing on the web, it’s that we are more completely aware that the individual is king.

You just can’t control how an individual uses or experiences your product, your service or your message.

The “consumer” always has been king of course.

But, in the past, for the most part, we could get away with holding people hostage to the experience we wanted them to have. We couldn’t tell what they thought about it. And we didn’t really care because we thought we knew best anyway.

What does this have to do with the church?

Just think about the preceding paragraphs in relation to the typical service.

As the web campus pastor, it has only taken three weeks for me to confirm my hunch that the format or the function of the typical service just can’t survive intact online.

  • Folks are staying for 10 minutes, an hour or 10 secs. Rarely the whole service.
  • Folks are skipping the “worship” and coming for the message
  • Folks are viewing full screen with friends and family.
  • Folks are chatting and taking notes while listening to the message.
  • Folks are snacking on the audio or video of the web campus as they’re cooking lunch.
  • Folks are reviewing what they thought they heard from God in church earlier that day.
  • Folks are previewing to see if they’re interested in going to church in person.
  • Folks are attending because it’s a well of life in a spiritual desert where they are.
  • Folks are attending because the kids were sick and couldn’t make it to church.
  • Folks are attending because they love their home church and community, but they’d much rather get their teaching from Perry Noble.
  • Folks just can’t wait until the podcast comes out on Tuesday.
  • Folks prefer a church and a community that can stick with them because they’re so mobile.
  • Folks are there because …

Fill in the [BLANK]

So: What’s the point of the service in our faith? Should we do it any differently? Can we?

And/or: Are our web campuses showing us where we’re not meeting needs in our physical churches?


Written by NickCharalambous

February 18, 2009 at 12:17 pm

12 Responses

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  1. word!

    John (Human3rror)

    February 18, 2009 at 1:29 pm

  2. People leaving earlier is rude.

    Shawn L.

    February 18, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    • word πŸ˜‰


      February 18, 2009 at 3:07 pm

  3. This is where the “human element” takes our plans and mangles them till they are unrecognizable.

    I’d compare it to this:

    The drip trays were definitely not designed to be turned upside down and used for light stands. However, they are still fully functional and I’m still buying the product. It doesn’t change the fact that it is still a cooktop drip tray. The method by which it is used has indeed changed though….and that’s ok.

    God’s word through music and preaching at NewSpring isn’t being compromised when people create their own methods of experiencing it.

    The point of the service is this: Romans 10 – Confess and believe, says Paul. That’s all it takes. And nobody confesses and believes unless someone tells them, because faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.

    Even Paul’s method of delivering the message was quite different than that of Jesus. There’s a lesson there. The Bible shows us that while the Truth is not contingent upon us, the method of delivering it is.

    Chris Hill

    February 18, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    • Chris: Agreed … I think there’s still a lot of emotional investment in the actual, physical worship service .. and that sometimes gets confused with theology of worship. But as the service gets reinterpreted by online attenders, are we losing something precious or just something extraneous?


      February 18, 2009 at 3:07 pm

  4. I applaud you for sharing details like this. Personally, I’m not so sure that an actual “web church” is able to be all we want it to be. The two big things that I see as a challenge (from the outside) are continual discipleship and community.

    Might be an interesting study to weight providing online materials (videos, discipleship packets, and a social network) that can do some of the same things that a set time online possibly could? Great discussion!!! You deserve a trophy for being so transparent!

    Gabe Taviano

    February 18, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    • Gabe: Now I’m really worried I said something I shouldn’t. Really, I don’t have the guts to be transparent on purpose πŸ˜‰


      February 18, 2009 at 3:05 pm

  5. “But as the service gets reinterpreted by online attenders, are we losing something precious or just something extraneous?”

    I understand and that is something that we can all speculate on but never know for sure because it all hangs upon the viewer’s personal experience.

    I can sit in my car and listen to a song or sermon and experience a powerful moment and have just as much emotion invested in that moment that I have when I experience it with others in person.

    Pastor Perry touched on the element of responsibility of the attender a few weeks ago when he talked about someone stating, “I’m just not being fed.”

    It is our responsibility to make sure people hear the Gospel. It is then up to them what they decide to do with it. Does that mean we stop creating new methods and stop trying at some point? Nah…I don’t think so. I’m thankful that Pastor Perry and the rest of the crew at NS doesn’t think so either.

    Thanks for exposing questions like these. It’s so difficult to resist the urge to try and remedy the problems we face in web minstry with tried and tested solutions from the traditional American church model. However, it is essential that new problems are cured with new solutions.

    Chris Hill

    February 18, 2009 at 3:38 pm

  6. Folks want to support their local church, because that’s where their relationships are, but they yearn for something bigger.

    They yearn for connections which they can manage, which extend beyond cities, states, and regions.

    Whats beyond that horizon, is Christianity bigger than my conception of it?

    Daniel Berman

    February 22, 2009 at 12:23 am

  7. wow … some of the conversations coming out of the woodwork these days about music, worship, church, preaching, web, non-web, relationships etc are really blowing my mind ….. that is all πŸ™‚


    March 1, 2009 at 7:54 pm

  8. […] as my post about “What can Web Campus attenders tell us about church,” seems to indicate, there’s definitely a question about whether the convenience of […]

  9. […] as my post about “What can Web Campus attenders tell us about church,” seems to indicate, there’s definitely a question about whether the convenience of […]

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