Internet As Church?
I have been investigating an idea that has been bouncing around for a few years that honestly seems impossible to me. The idea is an internet based church model. I have been very interested in looking at what role (if any) the internet could play in a disciple making healthy church for years and have even done some experimenting myself.
Most of what I have seen ranged from terrible to something that could be a useful addition to whatever church experience that a person was having, yet I have seen nothing that even remotely looked as if it could lead to the types of churched described in the New Testament.
My church experience for years has included a regular corporate worship experience, daily ministry work and several ministries I like to watch online or on television and the media ministries have been just that for me. Then came a weekend where I became sick with a flu like I have never had before. Every muscle in my body hurt, I felt miserable and did not even feel like thinking.
With this kind of mindset (one of misery and discomfort) I found several of the ministries I normally watch to be a bit dry, slow, and poorly put together for the internet. Yes, misery made me far pickier. So I started the search for an online ministry that would satisfy my desire for God feeding in spite of my state of pre-frustration.
I stumbled across a ministry that had some of the most amazing ides that at least conceptually was the first internet service I have encountered that has any possibility of leading to healthy, Bible based churches. It was also a pleasure to watch in a way that us modern folks can enjoy and relate to.
According to the introduction I viewed the push is to have small groups gather at the same time in various places to view the service and discuss the content. There are specific service times and many supporting resources such as Bibles etc. that participants can access. There are contacts that can be made to help a person start a group or join an existing group that may be in your area.
The services are clearly designed specifically for the internet audience as opposed to just taking the service and recording it to show online which makes a huge difference.
The real test was my 13 year old son. I was laying on the couch (sick) watching various internet services all day that Sunday and he would venture by regularly and glance at the different services only to lose interest as quickly as he passed by my radar. For this service, he sat down and watched the entirety of the service and discussed some of the points with no prompting etc. from me.
Last weekend I experimented by putting on the service while my whole family was in the area of the living room and the whole family not only took an interest, but everyone sat down through the service, ending the service with tears and prayer and basically a household revival.
I am not saying I am convinced that this is the end-all be-all for church models etc. What I am saying is that this is the first example that I have encountered that made me believe that God may have a plan for the technology of the 21st century other than a little side note on each of our church experiences.
I wondered what the same services would have been like with several families in our house experiencing and discussing the services while sharing in the personal fellowship of our home. I wondered if a few unsaved people might have been touched and would have accepted Christ in our living room.
I suppose it is just another example of how God’s plans for the next move of the church might be way outside of the box that we have created to lock the church into looking only one way. The impossible now seems quite possible. The internet that seems to hit the news regularly as an evil that is eroding life and common sense as we know it may be used for greater good than could ever have been imagined.
When I think of all of the evil that we all encounter daily that is related to the
internet I am forced to now think of the words of Joseph:
Genesis 50:20 GOD’S WORD Translation (GW) – 20 Even though you planned evil against me, God planned good to come out of it. This was to keep many people alive, as he is doing now.