Meditations (Web)Church

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

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

with 10 comments

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

10 Responses

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  1. Wow. Thanks for sharing. That is great. For every ministry to take the time to outline what it is they will accomplish will pay dividends. As a new church plant, this will go into our file as an example of the foundation of every ministry we do. Thanks for being so open to critique! We appreciate what you guys do @ NewSpring. The greatest thing that we appreciate is that you guys make Jesus famous!

    Shane Kennard

    May 13, 2009 at 10:18 am

    • That’s very flattering. We believe strongly in an iterative approach here … We’re learning as we go, and we’re constantly adjusting our strategy as we succeed and as we fail. Watch this space!


      May 13, 2009 at 12:41 pm

  2. That’s really quite good! Like Shane commented, it’s great to see how open you guys at NewSpring are, and allowing others to see what’s going on behind the scenes and in your thinking. One idea I didn’t see explicitly was that the internet campus is one other way that you meet people where they’re out, and not require them to physically come to you or agree with your definition of church before they can connect and even belong. Keep up the good work!

    Larry Baxter

    May 13, 2009 at 12:23 pm

    • Thanks for the feedback … i think those values were implicit and assumed, but i went ahead and made it clearer. Thanks for sharpening me 🙂


      May 13, 2009 at 12:39 pm

  3. Wonderful! A statement of intent for your ministry is extremely powerful and necessary for keeping your focus and vision aligned.

    Specifically, how are you encouraging and enabling viewers to meet in groups and experience the web campus together?

    I’d love to see a web ministry partner with regular participants who are willing to host home group iCampus experiences and make sure they have the tools they need in order to do so effectively. Example: large monitor display or television with the proper cables & connections or even an efficient wireless router if needed.

    Chris Hill

    May 13, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    • Thanks Chris. The suggestion you make is exactly the way we are pursuing
      physical gatherings. We’ve got a handful of people that we know of who are
      currently trying this form or ministry, via laptop and big screen tv, and
      they are giving us positive feedback about it. We’re still very early in
      this, of course.


      May 13, 2009 at 1:21 pm

  4. I love the way this type of ministry is going so far. It’s bearing lots of fruit with resources that are readily available.

    I think God will really bless the small home groups participating in the iCampus together.

    If your ministry cares about reaching small individual groups, he’ll give you the opportunity to reach many thousands.

    Chris Hill

    May 13, 2009 at 1:34 pm

  5. I think it’s interesting that you say that your Internet campus is a “path to involvement in a local body of serving, discipling, evangelizing believers.” So you’re saying the Internet campus is not where you want people to end up. You don’t want them to be content with just attending an Internet church.

    I think this is good. But it does lead to the question: Is Internet church really church. If it is, shouldn’t it be a perfectly legitimate place to worship each week and not merely a pathway to a more “real” church?

    Just a thought. Not a criticism or anything. Just something I’m wondering. And I’d be interested to know if other Internet campuses out there share this view of their relation to bricks-and-mortar churches.

    Bill Whitt

    June 3, 2009 at 11:36 pm

    • I think the issue you’re teasing out there is the issue. In my mind, I see physical churches as a “path of involvement” too since I don’t think the modern or traditional church is doing a very good job of incarnating communities of grace. Getting to a fuller, more dynamic expression of a local body of believers is what I’d like to see for the church as a whole. The Web church and the physical church are just alternative gateways …


      June 4, 2009 at 8:26 am

  6. Late to this conversation, but I like this a lot. Though I’ve argued against web campuses as actually church in the technical sense on my blog, I do think that they are extremely useful as evangelical tools. I love that you view them as a gateway to an even fuller expression of corporate worship rather than as an end all.

    Thanks for giving us an insight into your philosophy. This is extremely interesting and useful.


    December 5, 2009 at 5:24 pm

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