Meditations (Web)Church

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

The Web church could lower barriers of entry to Christian faith

with 13 comments

The megachurch study by the folks over at Hartford Seminary has grabbed my attention, largely because I think it proves that “church different” has created a new “market” of believers.

The study’s authors marvel at the megachurch’s role as an “assimilation engine,” taking people from every demographic, religious and cultural background and helping them connect and integrate within the Christian faith.

They found that 25 percent of attenders were new to church. And 28 percent of all attenders had recently relocated — representing 40 percent of all those who had church background.

The lesson here is that traditional churches apparently carried a lot of cultural and even “theological” baggage that turned people off and created barriers to entry.

I think the web church, as the megachurch has done, can remove artificial, and largely cultural barriers to Christianity and allow for sampling of the experience on an attender’s own terms.

There are many hundreds of millions of people worldwide, but especially in the post-Christian west, who don’t have any real understanding whatsoever of the basics of Christianity and would simply not see the point of going to church at all.

The Web church could be ideally positioned to create a new type of experience that intentionally refuses to trade on old and outdated assumptions about faith and its centrality to one’s life, and instead chooses to address spiritual seekers and immature believers head-on. (The megacurch study found that only 6 percent of attenders were new converts, so there’s lots of progress to be made in that area.)

Web church worship environments tap into the spirit of our technological, experiential, explorational age. And the web church can dovetail nicely with personal and relational evangelism that can overcome hostility to institutional church and “organized religion.”

Given that personal invites were, by an overwhelming margin, the No. 1 method that megachurches attracted attenders, I think there’s reason to be optimistic that Web churches, properly positioned, can truly take advantage of the Web’s network effects.

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Written by NickCharalambous

June 16, 2009 at 11:21 am

Posted in evangelism, web campus

Tagged with ,

13 Responses

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  1. As someone whose longtime passion has been the removal of artificial, man-made barriers to Christ, I just could not agree more. I’d just as soon see it done in the real world ASAP, but I’ll take it across the web as a strong start.

    Brian Conard

    June 16, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    • We need to hang out more 🙂

      ipiphanist

      June 16, 2009 at 2:00 pm

  2. In the 1960’s, the “hippies” were the one’s who rebelled against the church as an organization and started meeting in homes. Their experiential and explorational qualities moved the church forward in a big way. Add technological and you have us….the web Church.

    hmmm….now, to find a term for us….”Twippies”?

    Chris Hill

    June 16, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    • Twippies … love it!

      ipiphanist

      June 16, 2009 at 6:29 pm

  3. […] what we’ve learned from modern church methods. You can read past posts in this series here, here and […]

  4. I always thought the barrier to entry into the Christian faith was dying to yourself and daily picking up your cross. None of that can happen unless the Father draws you (John 6:43).

    I see nothing in the Bible about making coming to Christ as easy as possible. All I see is everyone going out and proclaiming the gospel. It really is a disservice to everyone when we try to change what is required to become a Christian.

    Thanks,
    Bill

    Bill

    June 19, 2009 at 10:12 am

    • With the greatest of all respect, I would love for you to give me an example of someone who was told: Die to yourself right now before you can become a follower of Christ. If you recall the way the disciples were called to Jesus, there was an encounter with Jesus, followed by a walking away from their “old lives,” “come and see,” a steady obedience that results in “going and telling” and then a dramatic “come and die.” How many of the disciples even understood what God was calling them to until he was ascended and returned with the Holy Spirit? Coming to faith is like an iceberg … it might happen all at once in a dramatic fashion like the Apostle Paul, and like me, but there can be an enormous amount of spiritual “stirring” that precedes it.

      ipiphanist

      June 19, 2009 at 10:43 am

      • Dying to yourself is also called repentance, or submitting to Jesus as Lord. If you haven’t done those things, you are dead in your sins and will spend eternity in hell. That is the barrier of entry into the Christian faith. There are dozens of examples of Jesus, Peter, Paul and others telling people this. Search for “repentance” or “Lord” in the New Testament, and you will find examples.

        Everyone has a unique experience of coming to faith in Christ, but everyone is either dead in their sins or born again. There is no in between.

        The problem with American Christianity is that so many people have prayed the sinner’s prayer or become a member of a church, or whatever, but never repented. They’ll end up in hell. If only their pastor hadn’t offered them false assurance in some religious ceremony, they might have at least realized they weren’t really saved.

        Your comments have given me serious doubts that you and your church present the true gospel (or that you even know what it is). Someday, we will all give an account for what we tell people.

        Thanks,
        Bill

        Bill

        June 20, 2009 at 3:04 pm

        • Bill: thanks for your comments. I am very well aware of the need for repentence, and nothing i have ever written would suggest otherwise, except for those who seek to turn everyone into heretic simply because they disagree with the methods to contextualize and contend for the gospel.

          There is a definitive moment that sometimes is “born again,” of course, but the process by which some people come to faith and then choose to live it out is decidedly messy. And the gospel account bear that out.

          I will indeed be called to account, and that is why I take what I do very seriously indeed. The magnitude of Christ’s sacrifice demands that we do whatever the Lord leads us to become all things to all people so that by all means we save some. Be blessed.

          ipiphanist

          June 20, 2009 at 8:22 pm

          • Great! We must agree. The barrier to entry into the Christian faith is repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

            We can do church however we want, but only God saves people, and we can neither raise or lower the barrier to someone getting saved.

            Thanks,
            Bill

            Bill

            June 21, 2009 at 3:56 pm

  5. […] the web church can learn from the 2009 Hartford Seminary Megachurch Study, parts 1, 2, 3, […]


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