web church – connecting
i’ve been thinking a lot the past weeks about trying to figure out how i feel about ‘the church’ and internet. there are definitely a lot of directions this could go…my thought here has to do with interpersonal connections and relationships. a number of churches, both large and small, are now podcasting sermons; i listen to about 4 different churches throughout the week. then there are some churches that even have ‘internet campuses’. this intrigues me.
one of the biggest (if not the biggest) is lifechurch.tv in OK. this isn’t simply an internet-based church – it is a physical building with real staff interacting with people in the sense of traditional church. but this is different in that in also has campuses around the country, over an internet video feed. so what could something like this mean for the church at large in not just the future, but very much the present?
my first thought/concern is focused on connecting with people. so much of what the church is is fellowship and discipleship, which mean interacting with other people fact to face. could this be lost if not structured properly? absolutely. but i believe one of the reasons that churches like life church and other megachurches have grown so much is that they understand a key principal – as you grow large you must at the same time grow smaller! i don’t think that it is a coincidence that when you look at how some of these multi-thousand member churches began, it’s very similar. newspring church, saddleback, life church.tv; they all began as small groups. read their websites or check wikipedia – it’s there.
so is an internet campus-based church really that different from a large church that has a video feed to a screen up front? i really think not. is it really an issue (problem) if the only thing that really changes is the means and not the message? i don’t think so. but what has to happen is the leadership being intentional about creating an atmosphere of small groups and connectivity. it’s then the responsibility of the church to teach those groups & leaders how to lead, thus empowering the church body to be able to feed it self instead of being founded on anything other than Jesus; not a pastor, not a building.
i’m excited to follow how some of these churches continue to develop and how they effect and meet needs in the community.