The Internet can be many things to many people. Can it be the drug of choice today or is that to harsh a term to describe what we as a society have done with the Internet?
Most of the time we have a negative connotation associated with a “drug”, but drugs can be just as positive as negative, especially when one company has promoted their product as the “wonder drug” of all time. One legal definition puts it like this:
Some governments define the term drug by law. In the United States, the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act definition of “drug” includes “articles intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease in man or other animals” and “articles (other than food) intended to affect the structure or any function of the body of man or other animals.
This is one of those random blog posts I couldn’t decide if I wanted to dive into or not, but I am going to do it anyway. I started writing this several weeks ago but it culminated this week with a conversation I had with the worship leader (photo shown above) here and moved into the finer point of Calvinism (if only we actually had time to just sit and discuss these things). And that is… what is the Internet doing to fellowship and how does it change how we read Hebrews 10:25 (in context) that says: “25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another€”and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
If you are reading my blog and are not a Believer, then insert “social skills or socializing” in place of fellowship, but for the rest of us, what does it mean to move our worship and other networking (i.e. fellowship) to the Internet? This is what I envision when we combine the greatness of the Internet with the Bride of Christ. Something totally awesome if I can still use that phrase, but how careful are we to not be slowly creating a generation of Internet only Believers that don’t know how to, want to, or even care anything about fellowship?
The ultimate online church campus right now is lifechurch.tv but this week I was really excited to watch the initial launch of the iCampus for NewSpring as posted on ChurchCrunch (read NewSpring Church Launches iCampus BETA). I was so excited to see NewSpring launch a full blown service that I could sit here in my office and watch Sunday evening from a church in Greenville I have never been to (but will in about a month) and feel like I was part of the service, but was I really part of the service?
The questions that ran through my mind when talking to other about where the church is going through technology goes something like this:
- What about those Believers who really don’t like to fellowship in the first place, or worse, highly dislike it? To say “they should” is what I would equate to saying a gay Christian just shouldn’t be gay (from Anne’s post Why is being gay a sin?). Can we look at the issue seriously and not just say “because the Bible said so”. I know that, but that often doesn’t change a person’s behavior or attitude.
- How do we fulfill Hebrews 10:25 online? Can we fulfill Hebrews 10:25 through only online means?
- Can we effectively fellowship with others online? I have gotten to know quite a few people online I have never met in person?
- What about those church-a-phobics (that would be the opposite of church-a-holics)? How do you get people in the building when they highly dislike (hate) the thought of “going to church” but will engage online?
- What intentional steps do we take to move from online fellowship to discipleship? Are we being intentional about the steps we take to pull people to our online venues in the name of Christ?
These are just a few, but serious questions to me, and quite personal. I have asked myself these and many other questions for many many years and I will continue to try to find where technology fits into God’s kingdom. It is not just something the church can ignore, or misuse. In some respects, it is the future of the Church. Thoughts?