In the last few months in my conversations with various churches doing or preparring to do internet campuses, online church and/or what ever you want to call it, I have formed the hypothesis that all of them fall into one of three buckets.
Billboard or Sample Church
The internet campus primarily is a vehicle for people not attending the church to get a feel for what it’s like before they show up at a physical church.
This is a full functioning church existing on the web. Worship, small groups, pastoral care, communion and everything that would traditionally take place at a physical church happens online. Multisite churches may view this as simply another one of their campuses.
The internet campus is a content creator and distributor for local communities (read: house church). This is our model at Gateway Church Austin.
I see that these are targets for the voice and strategy of a church’s online ministry presence and, as with any target, there is some collateral effect. Anyone of these models will also see some of the other two happening along side.
Head on over the ChurchCrunch to see the latest post in the ‘confessions of an internet pastor’ series.
Today’s question is:
What if we had no ingrained concept of what a church service is, go to a building ‚Äì hear some songs ‚Äì listen to a talking head ‚Äì walk out, what would an experience look like that is targeted at Internet Citizens?
God made us with bodies. He made us to give holy kisses to one another‚Äîembraces, handshakes, eyeball-to-eyeball conversation. He made husband and wife not to have imaginary video sex through Skype. He made them to go to bed together in the same bed. He made them to raise children in the same house, with hands-on hugs and spanks on the bottom and love. And he made churches to get together to hear each other sing, and to look at each other and talk to teach other, and minister to each other and help each other die well.
Some other bloggers have chimed in on the topic too. I can’t say that I disagree with Piper’s take and I will never criticize someone for what they didn’t say, so I will simply add these thoughts:
We have to try. The Church has to try and explore every avenue to expand the Kingdom and pass the Gospel to the next generation, this includes the internet.
The internet has become a real community. I know several married couples who met online and now have beautiful relationships and families. So, although the internet experience is not the vehicle for the deepest of relationships, we have to go as far as we can with it in order to impact more people.
Its all so new. Its true that the internet has been around longer, but its only in the last 10 years that its truly become part of global society. I think we have barely scratched the surface of where we can go.
I agree with Piper on the fact that relationships are far too complex and mysterious to be fully realized over electronic media…but let’s do what we can and love each other and see how far that takes us.