Meditations (Web)Church

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

Web church as “safe space” to explore Christian faith

with 6 comments

This is my last post exploring the fascintating conclusions from Hartford Seminary’s groundbreaking study on megachurch attenders and what the web church can learn from it. You can read posts one, two and three and four if you missed them.

One of the more fascinating parts of the study showed that:

some people intentionally don’t want to establish friendships, even if they are highly committed to the church. Certain people come because they can be, and want to remain, anonymous. … almost a third of those at these churches over five years still report having very few close friends there. For some attenders even long-term participation in the megachurch is about something other than having a network of close friendships.

Let’s face it: “community” can be intimidating to some people, especially those who may only be just starting to live the Christian life.

That’s where the Web church’s perceived weakness — its so-called anonymity — might prove to be one of its greatest assets.

To begin with, it might provide a private, anonymous, low-commitment way to experience Christians and Christian teaching. But there’s also a clear path toward Christian community for those who want to explore it in a controlled environment, calibrated along a continuum of casual conversation, friending, commenting, messaging and physical meetups, to name just a few.

From a theological standpoint and a practical standpoint, discipleship occurs best in a community context, and the Web Church could provide that safe, community space in a believers’ formative years.

Thoughts?

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Written by NickCharalambous

June 19, 2009 at 8:30 am

6 Responses

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  1. For me, the anonymity can be a problem… a quote I picked up somewhere goes like this…

    “When anonymity increases, accountability decreases”

    So while the anonymity can help people feel secure… it can prevent important issues being confronted

    Nathan Edwards

    June 19, 2009 at 3:43 pm

    • Naturally. I don’t see anonymity as a destination and dwelling place, but an origin.

      ipiphanist

      June 19, 2009 at 4:05 pm

  2. And we all know of a brick and mortar church that has no community at all. Great post. REally excited about the online church future.

    Andy Darnell

    June 21, 2009 at 3:14 pm

  3. True, it is the Holy Spirit’s job to complete the work He has started in the new believer’s life. But I believe there has to be a balance of divine teaching, individual discipline, and communal accountability for the disciple.

    Can Christians have honest accountability in an anonymous on-line setting? If so, who can hold him/her accountable if s/he is tempted? Reply to @forestfisk on twitter:
    http://twitter.com/forestfisk

    Forest Fisk

    June 23, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    • Agreed. We are to work for our sanctification, but isn’t the astonishing good news of the gospel that the work is assured whatever we do? Scandalous? Yes. Dangerous? Potentially. True? Most definitely.

      ipiphanist

      June 24, 2009 at 8:41 am

  4. […] What the web church can learn from the 2009 Hartford Seminary Megachurch Study, parts 1, 2, 3, 4 […]


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