Meditations (Web)Church

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

Whatever happened to the sacred?

with 7 comments

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

Tagged with , ,

7 Responses

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  1. Great article about “SACRED”..The CHURCH is and will be underattack on websites, twitters, or other posts. People do it for jealousy, think their methods are better,or just malice. Why? These people hate the church, Hate Jesus, Hate GOD. If you take it personal, it will ruin your day, and satan’s has declare a small victory. I’ve attended NewSpring since January and God’s is doing something “AWESOME” Since HE Is AWESOME.. Where do u go from here? Keep praying and say THANK YOU JESUS for “WORKING AND SAVING’ Rick Beeco

    Rick Beeco

    May 6, 2009 at 10:03 am

    • Thanks Rick. God IS moving in a big way here at NewSpring. I believe our web campus is glorifying him. I sense that the experience of worship emotionally and spiritually can far more authentic than critics believe, but I also wonder about whether the web is a medium that makes it harder for the heart to be prepared for worship when there’s not as much separation between the everyday noise of life and when our God focus can be even more easily interrupted. …


      May 7, 2009 at 10:23 am

  2. I think…

    God is not limited in what media the message, worship music, etc. reaches us… For me the only question really is how well true community can happen via cyberspace… and from the experience that I have grown over the past short while… I definitely think it can… and its just as difficult as face-to-face

    Nathan Edwards

    May 6, 2009 at 11:16 am

    • Touche. God is never limited, of course. And community … it seems to get more difficult to define and make and nurture the more seriously we see how God thinks about it.


      May 7, 2009 at 10:29 am

  3. I agree with Nathan…

    I think… we have to define the word scared… to me it is anything belonging to or dedicated to God (in a sense everything belongs to him, but that’s a different subject).

    If we look through the N.T. we see the transfer of buildings being the house of God to people (Jesus). Then Paul tells us that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit, so in a sense we are the sacred, we carry his presence with us and as you mentioned in the video above, supernaturally God moves in ways word can’t explain sometimes!

    I’ve been in services where this has happen and last week as I watched online, there was no distinct difference in the feeling of His presence because ultimately He doesn’t move THROUGH the screen I just happen to be encouraged BY the screen to worship Him and He entered my house just like He entered the church.

    I love the fact that you and NewSpring will take criticism in humility to make sure that you are not doing things out of order… and it’s for this reason and more that God continues to bless the ministry!


    May 6, 2009 at 4:06 pm

    • Love your spirit here. The sacred is a challenging concept to define especially because I’m not thinking about it theologically, but more from the emotional standpoint. I love your articulation of God’s using the screen to stir our hearts … and that seeing Jesus and allowing our love for him to move is what really captures the essence of his spirit filling a house or church … I wonder though whether that’s as powerful an encounter for someone who doesn’t know Jesus … doesn’t the emotional sacred — the awe, the wonder, etc — help them see and encounter God outside before he’s inside?


      May 7, 2009 at 10:37 am

  4. sorry typing to fast—– word is SACRED not scared 🙂


    May 6, 2009 at 4:09 pm

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