Meditations (Web)Church

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

Parting thoughts on my year as NewSpring’s Web Campus pastor, part 1

with 14 comments

(Update: You can read the other three parts of this blog series, here, here and here.)

A new chapter in NewSpring’s web ministry begins Sunday with the launch of NewSpringLive, a live streaming webcast of each of our four Sunday services on the Anderson campus.

The new webcast replaces the “Web Service,” which was launched in February 2009 as an experiment in “online church” but evolved quickly to become an environment focused on leveraging web attenders and seekers toward local churches.

The webcast continues to allow us to serve attenders of our physical campuses who cannot make it to church and to offer an extra teaching resource to the broader movement of the gospel in the world. What it doesn’t do is make any promises — real or implied — that this can or should replace physical church attendance over the short, medium or long term.

It was humbling and, frankly, scary to have the opportunity to begin my ministry career in such a pioneering role. I learned quickly the healthy desperation for God’s guidance that every good pastor needs. This blog now stands as an archive to the values, ideas, and debates that framed my work in this area of ministry.

Some of what I wrote now makes me wince because of its naivety. Some is no longer relevant given the changing online environment. But I believe some of what I wrote may have been written with prophetic force that may remain useful to church leaders and pastors who are only now engaging in this area.

Over the next few posts, I plan to offer some personal observations about the “Web Campus” phenomenon and to suggest a few ways we might be able to evaluate its spiritual health.

The change to a pure “webcast” is, I think, another triumph of NewSpring’s “simple church” philosophy, a reflection of our pastor Perry Noble’s single-minded desire to stay focused on the vision God has given him as well as a demonstration of the humility we try and bring to everything we do for Jesus’ fame.

Technology offers the church amazing opportunities to bring God glory. But when it comes to the church Christ died for, there’s no reason to doubt that the Biblical bedrock of all our efforts to multiply the faith is the planting of real, physical churches until the glory of God covers the earth.

We can and should discuss how churches must remain culturally relevant.

We can and should explore ways to extend onto the web the relational bonds that are the basis of disciple-making.

But I don’t see anything in the history of civilization or technology that warrants departing from the priority of preaching the Gospel of Christ within local, physical bodies of believers under right authority and rightly administering the sacraments.

More than 1,000 people on average joined us for one of our interactive “Web Services” each week during the year that NewSpring experimented with the video-chatroom form of online church that has been popularized by LifeChurch.tv and inspired many others.

We recorded more than 120 decisions for Christ.

We enabled hundreds of conversations that reminded people in need of the hope in Christ.

And we were used by God in his sovereign glory in many thousands of instances to bring his children one step closer to him.

But as great church leaders such as Perry Noble have discovered through the ages, the mark of our surrender to Christ is when we are willing to sacrifice our ministry success for the sake of surrender to God’s plan for His church; when we forego the good idea for the God idea.

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Written by NickCharalambous

March 5, 2010 at 4:47 pm

14 Responses

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  1. I enjoyed following along with you on this journey. Your candor is always appreciated. I’m excited to have been able to learn from you in this endeavor as well. You really encouraged me to focus on the physical campus during some of my uncertainty of the web campus. That ended up being sage advice.

    I am excited to see what God does with the gifts he’s given you and will continue to encourage you, my brother, in whatever it is you do as long as you are seeking after Him.

    Chris Hill

    March 5, 2010 at 5:54 pm

    • thanks for the friendship, Chris. Wish you lived closer so we could hang out more often. 🙂

      NickCharalambous

      March 5, 2010 at 7:08 pm

  2. I so appreciate your authenticity on this subject and wish I could write as well as you do 🙂

    For real though, I will say I am humbled by your ability to adapt as change IS and will always be difficult to grasp. I am so glad that I will have close access to you in the coming weeks. You are a great encouragement my friend.

    chrisrivers

    March 7, 2010 at 8:07 am

  3. […] Live Broadcast of NewSpring’s 4 Services Posted by John Saddington on Mar 7, 2010Nick announced on his blog (after a long hiatus… welcome back!) that NewSpring is re-launching their online experience […]

  4. Just learned today that you’re no longer the web campus pastor and that web service has changed to live broadcast. Thankful for the live broadcast. Miss the opportunity to interact with fellow watchers. Glad I’ve been able to connect with some of them online via Facebook & Twitter.

    Prudence

    March 7, 2010 at 1:57 pm

  5. […] This is a blog series of personal observations from my year as NewSpring’s web pastor. Read Part 1 and Part 2 Any references to “web church” are shorthand for “doing church […]

  6. […] Parting thoughts on my year as NewSpring’s Web Campus pastor, part 1 […]

  7. […] is a blog series of personal observations from my year as NewSpring’s web pastor. Read Part 1 here. (In all references to “web church,” it’s simply a shorthand for the (re)creation of a […]

  8. […] church challenges, part 1: Is it necessary? My reflections on my year as NewSpring’s Web Pastor have focused on what I see as the Web Church’s three potentially strongest contributions to […]

  9. […] Charalambous’s observations on his year as web pastor of NewSpring […]

  10. […] is a blog series of personal observations from my year as NewSpring’s web pastor. Read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. Any references to “web church” are shorthand for “doing church online.” […]

  11. You can ask pastors questions? Really!

    brian

    March 18, 2010 at 1:55 am

  12. […] Church Reflections, Parts 1, 2 and 3 and […]


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