Meditations (Web)Church

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

Posts Tagged ‘Facebook

Web Church reflections, Part 2: Proclaiming the Gospel

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This is a blog series of personal observations from my year as NewSpring’s web pastor. Read Part 1, Part 3 and Part 4. (In all references to “web church,” it’s simply a shorthand for the (re)creation of a worship environment online. There are other weighty aspects to “being the church,” and I’m not dealing with them here.)

The most powerful justification for any use of technology by the church — printing, radio, television, internet — is gospel proclamation. I saw and heard countless encounters involving people who never would have experienced “church,” whether for salvation, or in discipleship, prayer or guidance, had it not been for a tweet, a Facebook status update or some other providential coincidence in our hyper-networked world.

Bottom line No. 1: Web churches live on a continuum with podcasts, vodcasts and livestreaming — and radio and tv church before them — as an effective way of maximizing exposure to the Gospel.

Every church that is financially able (and that should be pretty much every one) should be using one or all of these new mediums. At least 20 to 30 percent of church attenders are skipping one or two messages a month, so for that reason alone it’s worthwhile.

And if we do believe that the church is a community that has its fullest expression in physical gathering and action, then let’s state clearly what classifies as a healthy use of these “private” worship mediums. I think Tim Keller’s disclaimer on his web site is a good place to start. In fact, why aren’t more people doing this?

Bottom line No. 2: I’ve seen our own stats on our church’s use of Facebook and Twitter, and the traffic they drive across our various resources, and the power of these two social networks alone is simply staggering.

Given the limits of communicating in print and the pitiful number of true conversations that happen inside our atriums, social networks offer every one a way to get people informed and engaged in a place where they have everything they need to integrate Biblical “one anothering” with their day-to-day lives.

The churches that are wary of engaging in these media are, to put it bluntly, clueless. The risks associated with opening up conversations inside your church and exposing your church and your people to their friendship networks (in both directions) is the same as fearing what people would say when they’re talking at the YMCA or Bojangles.

Are you so insecure about your church’s discipleship or are you so lacking in confidence in the supremacy of Christ that you can’t handle that?

There are some wise practices to follow. Lead through them. Just don’t be chicken, for Christ’s sake.

Written by NickCharalambous

March 7, 2010 at 8:01 pm

The last thing a web church needs is another social network

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We’re not going to create a community on NewSpring’s web campus.

I didn’t misspeak. I’m dead straight. We don’t have any plans for any special community infrastructure to be built into our web campus.

Why? Because we think our attenders are already in communities, and they don’t need to add another one to their very long list.

We want attenders to create relationships, but we believe that they already have plenty of tools to make community happen. If they want community, they’ve got it.

Of course, we’re praying for great conversations in our web campus chat room. But we trust the Holy Spirit will lead people to connect them outside our worship services.

Be honest: Do people really respond when churches force them to befriend and nurture random strangers? Who can claim real success from a lifegroups model that involves placing people with leaders they don’t know?

What if the way to honor God’s desire for us to be in Christ-centered community was for every church attender to be constantly seeking and finding people within their existing networks that he wants them to pour into and to take those relationships deeper, individually or in groups?

The vision I’ll be casting to our web attenders is simple: Get to know one another. Share any details your comfortable sharing so that you can take your friendships further. Maybe that’s an email. Maybe that’s your Twitter ID. Perhaps it’s inviting them to friend you on Facebook.

We’re not going to hold your hand or do community for you.

Got a problem with that? Why?

Written by NickCharalambous

January 15, 2009 at 4:11 pm

Facing up to Facebook

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If you haven’t seen the blog post from Justin Buzzard of Central Peninsula Church about Thinking Biblically about Facebook and the challenges and opportunities it presents to the faithful and to the church, you should. (HT: JT at Between Two Worlds.

There’s a lot of great wisdom in there, and he ends with challenges that can apply to every one of us:

  • Some of you are all jacked up (Bear Hug) and internet addicted and you just need to take a fast, or permanent break from Facebook
  • Some of you are a medium-bit jacked up and need to take some time to reflect, get alone with God, and ask him how to engage this technology for his glory, your good, and the good of others. Make changes.
  • Some of you are only a little-bit jacked up (Side Hug) and just need to get creative and come up with ideas for using Facebook to greater glorify God and love others.
  • A few of you are “Cold Shoulder” technology people that need to engage the 21st century here in Silicon Valley

We’re hoping NewSpring’s Internet campus makes generous use of Facebook and other social media.

I am particularly interested in leveraging the Facebook platform for a church widget of some sort, so the risks and potential rewards have been on my mind a lot.

For me, it comes down to this: If what social networks really offer is the promise of living life more abundantly, we should be able to apply the most traditional filter there is in determining whether it’s trash or treasure: “Whom are you living for?”

If you use Facebook out of the overflow of your heart in living for Jesus — spontaneous praise, awed witnessing, intentional helping, intimate friendship —  then I say in classic John Piper mode, seek as much joy from Facebook as any Christian hedonist should.

What do you think are the best Christian opportunities in Facebook?

Written by NickCharalambous

November 16, 2008 at 4:04 pm