Meditations (Web)Church

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

Open source the web church now

with 8 comments

God’s hope for reconciling the whole world to himself was through Jesus and, specifically, the unity of his church.

And the web is the global platform, fast-becoming the world’s great unifier and destined to be everyone’s unified, killer app for life.

So why are we, the techno-evangelical church, lacking a unified purpose in the way we are exploring its use for advancing the kingdom?

I’m betting there are literally thousands of amazing ideas from churches and ministries all across America about how we can leverage the people and the resources of the kingdom of God using the web.

And yet, as far as I know, there’s no open-source, large-scale, collaboration or partnerships going on regarding specific church apps or specific community-building efforts.

In fact, i see a reflexive entrepreunerialism driving our approaches. Everyone’s rushing to do something, and we’re all stretching limited resources, limited time and limited talent to create lots of (potentially) awesome little C church web efforts but very few excellent “Big C” church web efforts.

This must change. Let’s make a few strategic bets on some ideas. Let’s test them out. Let’s fail. And above all let’s succeed.

You see, there is a way for all of us to prove whether we’re smoking what we’re selling regarding the potential of the web church: We can harness the full array of social technologies — crowdsourcing, collaboration and community technologies — for our unified, one-church purpose.

That would make Jesus smile.

I think there are many church web-dev folks like John Saddington and other thought leaders, such as Tony Steward, and countless others, perhaps even myself, who might be in a position to form part of a core team that can organize and lead an open-source church movement.

All we need is some agreement on working out some core ideas. Get some buy in from a sizeable number of influential ministries. And then find and harness the human resources — volunteers, hobbyists, staff — to make some of these ideas happen.

You know that venture capital companies are taking this approach. How do you think those amazing web apps keep coming with such amazing consistency?

We can do this. What’s stopping us?


Written by NickCharalambous

March 18, 2009 at 10:38 am

Posted in ruminations

8 Responses

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  1. our current day jobs.


    John (Human3rror)

    March 19, 2009 at 4:59 am

  2. Nick – I appreciate your thoughts here. While I am not on the tech expert on the team, I am interested in sharing ideas about what it means to be the church online. There would be differences that result from denominational approaches to faith, but likely a great deal of commonality. What do you suggest?

    Andrew Conard

    March 20, 2009 at 12:32 pm

    • Andrew: for me, it could be as simple as gathering up some ideas about a “Big C” web church initiative, getting buy in from ministries, tapping resources from those ministries and going forward with it … I don’t know if I’ve got the equity to be the standard bearer for the initiative, but I certainly plan to ask some of the techno-evangelical leaders to see if I can make this a go with a specific concrete project … If you want to help, I’m going to assume you’re in 😉


      March 20, 2009 at 4:20 pm

  3. […] Open source the web church now contains a potential invitation to collaboration […]

  4. I applaud and support your thinking behind this initiative. I do have a couple of questions, though.

    When you discuss Big C initiatives, do you include Catholic and Orthodox Christians within that context?If you don’t why not? At this point in time, we have at least three historical strands of Christianity all claiming to be the true Church….

    If you do, how would suggest that we deal with the theological disputes which have caused historical separations over doctrinal grounds? More love won’t cut it.

    You mentioned ministry buy-in. Which ministries and para-church organization do you believe are strategic? Why?

    For today what sorts of practical, theological, and ecclesiastical issues do you believe we need to deal with, in order to comprehensively “open-source the church”?

    Please don’t misunderstand me, I am attempting to accomplish something very similar within the Issachar Network( If you’d like I would love to feature you in our Voices section, I believe you have a lot to offer the body of Christ around the world

    Daniel Berman

    March 23, 2009 at 3:01 pm

    • Love the seriousness you brought to that comment, Daniel. The truth is that if you don’t buy into the “priesthood of all believers” then anything to do with “being the church” outside of an institutional/denominational context is going to be troublesome to people. So the orthodox or Catholics weren’t in view.

      I do think that the kind of initiatives I’m thinking of also would not revolve so much around “worship services,” sidestepping a lot of the tough questions to do with sacraments and liturgies etc.

      … Most of the ideas i have in view are about discipleship processes, embodying Christ in interdependent, participatory community and leveraging individual believers for missions and evangelism

      … I guess you could say I want to unlock the kingdom-building potential of Christian living in the global social network, if that doesn’t sound too fancy. The ministries I’d hope would collaborate, almost by definition, would have to be those with an entrepreneurial structure and mindset and established “geek” chops. So megachurches and the church networks are most likely the ones who would want to play.

      However, the precise contours of a believers’ theology or faith expression, potentially, shouldn’t matter as much in this environment, assuming that they hold to the core orthodoxies of Biblical belief and also grasp that an indivdual believer is a legitimate “carrier” and mediator of Biblical faith.

      As far as being part of the conversation on the Issacharnetwork, I would love to. I’m just biding my time until I’m not quite so green. 🙂 Great questions. Keep em coming.


      March 23, 2009 at 4:26 pm

  5. Very interesting thoughts!

    As an evangelical I can definitely appreciate the perspective of the need for the “Priesthood of all Believers.” But why exactly do we push for that so hard presumably at the exclusion of the view of community which Orthodox Christians and Catholics espouse? Is it because of a hard theological truth that can not be avoided or because we see 10% of the flock doing 90% of the work?

    I would be very curious to hear more about your thoughts on “discipleship processes, embodying Christ in interdependent, participatory community and leveraging individual believers for missions and evangelism.” You mention being the Church outside of an institutional/ denominational context, but how can we be community without understanding from whence we’ve come?

    Now I am not suggesting for one second, that online community can not work without shared history of the individuals involved. The truth is those denominations that we commonly like to blame for the ills of the church are the basis of our existing community. Furthermore when we leave them can we guarantee that we will not form new “denominations,” even if we don’t call them that?

    You mention an emphasis of the individual being a legitimate “carrier” and mediator of Biblical faith. I can definetly agree with from a western Christian perspective, but does that carry similar weight in the global south where the emphasis on the group carries much more weight? This question becomes even more poignant with the growing consciousness that the “balance of power” is shifting away from Northern Christianity?

    On a personal note, you mentioned being green. Don’t worry. Though I may have a Bible College degree, and have formed the Issachar Network I have not been given the opportunity yet to Pastor a single congregation. If anything I am the foolish one to even question you. I may not agree with everything you say, but my offer still stands.

    Daniel Berman

    March 23, 2009 at 7:24 pm

    • Again, very challenging thoughts. I don’t think i can honestly say I’ve thought through everything in the detail it would take to make a cogent response to all of your points. The best I can say is: stay tuned to this blog. I’m bound to be working through a lot of those issues. Your intellectual spurring would be a blessing.

      You should also know that 1) my folks were orthodox Christians and my wife was raised a Catholic, so i have a great respect for those faith traditions. And more than anything 2) I’d like modern Christianity to reclaim the theology of a community-oriented faith, without downplaying individual responsibility and accountability before Christ.


      March 23, 2009 at 9:16 pm

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