Online church… not exclusively, but not that far either

31 Dec

A comment I made at Brian Merrits blog

http://www.qideas.org/blog/can-church-happen-online.aspx#commentView

Church could happen online but not exclusively, ie the Lord’s supper, Baptisms, marriages, etc dont mesh, at least not at this time… but with scaling of the priesthood of believers, perhaps such could happen at some point down the road. Ie physical presence of a multitude of small groups consisting of localized online participants with a virtual connection to the larger whole. 

Its a similar deal with how online groups I’ve worked with have dealt with substance abuse, suicide interventions, and deliverance as concerns their participants. Online alone is not prudent… but in my experience, it may be the only place folks are initially willing to talk… and if systems are in place for a timely handoff to qualified in person resources, the combination does work.

Beyond that aspect, the following have occurred within many online groups

Elder shepherding
In a lot of ways, the online world can fill a huge need in this area in part due to its asyncronous nature… with the caveat, that nothing online will ever compare with a year of CPE in a hospital environment, but the combination can be very beneficial.

Loving Elder Accountability/Discipline when needed
Again, within the online world, this has occurred, and just by the nature of the ability to turn off a laptop, it better be done with love and skill, or folks will bail. Its a much tighter rope to walk than in 3d, but I’m not so sure thats not a bad thing. There are just too many horror stories of untrained and inept attempts at accountability in the 3d world… not that the online world has such a great track record either, but it can work.

Significant “one-anothering”
Over the last years of online ministry involvement, I’ve experienced deaths, births, marriages, hurricanes, floods, natural disasters, cried with folks, rejoyced with others, fed the poor, arranged for housing for the homeless, arranged for in person suicide intervention, substance abuse interventions etc. Yes, spending an afternoon on the phone trying to get help for someone a thousand miles away is way different than pounding nails building a house. Or in other cases, having a prepaid pizza delivered to a guy outside abcdef library..but the outcome for the person who needs housing, or is lacking food is the same.

Someonline holes, which can be good or bad…. (not part of the comment)

Outside of leadership roles, online politics is pretty easy to hide from, vs it is often in ones face in 3d. Politics otoh does force growth even if unpleasant.

Online prayer can be near instantaneous, rather than having to wait for folks to show up in 3d, or waiting to call the prayer phone during office hours… and then pray that someone answers it timely.

Online deliverance is a disaster waiting to happen… yet, there are multitude of 3d deliverance ministries run by well meaning folks who are not versed in the field at all.

Online background checks are a huge time killer… but they are a must for those in positions of spiritual authority,

More later

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