Meditations (Web)Church

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

Archive for May 2009

How to peel a crawfish and other tales from the Great Crawfish Boil of 2009

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There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God — Ecclesiastes 2:24

My wife’s family is from Houma, La., deep down in the bayou.

Their favorite way to celebrate (no special occasion necessary) is a crawfish boil. If you’re from the south, but unfamiliar with crawfish boils, they’re very similar to a lowcountry boil, except there’s way more cayenne pepper involved, among a few other things.

In honor of Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day and any other times when you find yourself wanting to entertain a bunch of people outdoors with a new and “exotic” food experience, I submit that crawfish boils rule.

We had nearly 70 relatives, friends and newspring family join us, and we put a serious hurting on 140 pounds of fresh-from-the-Louisiana-coast crawfish and 80 pounds of shrimp.

It was our Sixth Annual Crawfish Boil, and the best yet by far, so we’re already planning next years to be bigger and better. If you’re in the Upstate of South Carolina sometime in April next year, check in with us, because you might be able to come and see for yourself what it’s all about at chez Charalambi.

If this bog or the clip has given you a taste (bwahaha) of the experience, and you’re interested in having a go yourself, here’s a really good article on how to cook a crawfish boil. (I always seem to forget that I now have access to a Flip video camera, and I am now kicking myself that I never captured the cooking process on video, too.)

If you’re entertaining guests today, go all out and do it all for the glory of God!

And don’t forget to honor those who serve to protect our liberty to enjoy his blessings.

Written by NickCharalambous

May 25, 2009 at 1:20 pm

Posted in community

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A Web campus: More than a podcast with bells and whistles

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Web Campuses or Internet Campuses or whatever you want to call them are all the rage.

And as the Web Campus pastor for NewSpring Church, I’m blessed to have a small part in leading the Big C church to rightly embrace the web for church, broadly defined, as an environment for worship, a vehicle for community and discipleship, and a medium for evangelism.

I take what I do seriously enough that I’m always sharpening my theological understanding of what we’re trying to do through the web campus. So, inspired by this page on Rick Warren‘s Saddleback Church Internet Campus, i thought I’d share here my internal vision statement for the web campus that has been in place since before we launched.

It’s aimed at getting my ministry team and volunteers on the same page. It’s a work in progress. It’s not proof-texted. It’s not officially endorsed by my church leadership. But it is I think a healthy approach that recognizes a web campus as something far more than a podcast with bells on.

Come on. You know you want to help critique it. 🙂

Our mission is to make Jesus famous one person at a time, helping people worship God, grow in faith and live in Christ-centered community online.

We believe the web campus can follow the model of a Biblical church. It provides a venue for worship of God, Biblical teaching, and opportunity for community, discipleship and evangelism.

For the lost, it can be a very powerful tool in welcoming spiritual seekers to hear the word of truth in a setting that may not be as intimidating as physically attending a church.

For those Christians who are not fully committed to a local church, it can be a more open and inviting path to involvement in a local body of serving, discipling, evangelizing believers who are passionate about Jesus and obedient to his word.

We believe that online attenders can and should participate fully in the life of NewSpring Church, which considers itself one church in many locations.

As with every NewSpring campus, our online attenders will be strongly encouraged to get baptized by immersion after a decision for Christ, give, serve each other and the church in online and offline venues and proclaim the good news as the Lord gifts them and leads them. Periodically, we also will celebrate communion together, rightly instructed by a pastor, with online attenders gathering and taking their own elements. (See our five purposes below)

Attendence of the Web Campus should never be viewed as a legitimate way to “go to church” while avoiding the challenges or the commitments involved in faithful participation of a local church body. We do, however, believe that full, consistent, surrendered worship among a body of believers on the web campus is to be preferred to infrequent attendance of a local church and membership of it in name only for whatever reason.

We believe that online social and communication tools can be used to ensure that we are “meeting together” in worship and in Christ-exalting relationship with believers as well as serving as a witness to God corporately. But as the body of Christ, each with a role in discipling, serving and evangelizing within “communities of grace,” our success can only come through deep investment in individual lives and communities that must include some element of offline, bodily interaction.

Although we donʼt believe that physical presence is the only way we can fulfill our role in the body of Christ, we do want to strongly encourage people to gather physically wherever possible, such as by viewing the web campus in physical groups.

Overall, the web campus is more than just a podcast with a chat room. In fact, we recognize that some podcasters may be using our media to create a personal church experience that risks isolating them and tends toward a false understanding of the Christian life as private and solitary, rather than public and communal. The web campus offers a chance to lead podcasters toward a more complete experience and participation in church.

Our theological conviction is to offer attenders a 360-degree church experience: communal worship experience realized through our chat room or in physical gatherings, pastoral guidance from me and other NewSpring pastors, and abundant opportunities to take “next steps” in their walk with Jesus. I think you’ll agree that taken as a whole, the web campus can serve as someone’s church home, should they need it.

We want out attenders to:

  • Worship God through time, talent, treasure and prayer.
  • Grow Biblical relationships that spur greater communion and connection with God, the church and each other.
  • Grow spiritually through Bible reading and study and other resources to develop their spiritual understanding, gifts and leadership abilities.
  • Serve their church and community by meeting needs in ministry and missions
  • Share their faith with unchurched people by sharing testimony and inviting people to worship services online or offline.

Written by NickCharalambous

May 13, 2009 at 9:02 am

Two great reads on the church and community

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Regular readers of this blog know that my passion as NewSpring Web Campus pastor is to explore how we the church can reclaim radical, missional, Biblical community using Web 2.0 tools.

Two of my favorite people, LifeChurch.tv Community Pastor Tony Steward, and Church Strategy guru (and my former boss) Tony Morgan, both had some awesome posts this week about the strategic attitudes that churches need to take in this area.

Tony Steward’s main point implied that the church can use private social networks effectively without comprising evangelistic focus given the right leadership. (My comment is here)

If we are leading our community to be outward focused, then that is where their focus will be, technology will only be leveraged to amplify our leadership.

Tony Morgan’s point was that the church should spend far more attention on creating content for people to organize around. (My comment here.)

When people have the freedom to gather in community without relying on the church to place them with other people, that’s when the Gospel will spread like a virus. When people start focusing less on how the church needs to serve them and more on how they need to be the church, that’s when dramatic transformation will take place in people’s lives and in our communities.

Both are arguments I’ve made implicitly or explicitly myself. Obviously, i think both men are dead right. 😉

What do you think?

Written by NickCharalambous

May 11, 2009 at 9:06 am

Posted in ruminations

Whatever happened to the sacred?

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My ministry is the web church, so it’s not surprising that my heart skips a beat when I come across critiques of what God laid on my heart to do.

I actually welcome criticism, partly because I love God too much to be outside his will, and also because I want to be humble about what I think I know about the majestic God that I worship with my life.

In one such critique below, there was one point (or maybe I’m misunderstanding?) that made me pause: Can we truly experience the sacred online?

[the cyber-church] … risks the danger that in the electronically mediated virtual world the experience of the holy will become visual and secularized. It also faces the danger that the Word of God pervading the depth of the soul will be changed into the on-screen messages of the electronically reduced multimedia.”

Yuang Han Kim (HT: Tall Skinny Kiwi)

The concept of reverence seems stuffy and unfashionable. I get that. And I know all the theoretical and theological stuff about God being part of your everyday life, God being your friend.

The problem for me is that there are just too many words like “awe” and “fear” and “glory” and their synonyms in the scriptures to not believe that the question of sacredness is valid.

Growing up Greek Orthodox, I was clueless about a lot of things, including Jesus, but I definitely knew the moment that I stepped foot inside the church that I was supposed to feel oh-so-small and unworthy in the presence of a Holy, Holy, Holy God.

In megachurches like NewSpring, the lights, the music and the sheer size of the congregation help build that sense, I think. But that doesn’t really transfer on the web.

Of course, God being God, there are times when the move of the Holy Spirit is dramatic and unmistakable no matter what environment we’re in.

Such as when RoseAngela breaks down while singing the old hymn “Softly and Tenderly”.

Or when evangelist Clayton King decides to make an invitation before a single word is preached and sees hundreds declare Jesus as Lord and Savior. (Watch at least part of the 20-minute portion of this service, beginning at 21:30)

What do you think?

Written by NickCharalambous

May 6, 2009 at 9:09 am

Posted in ruminations

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