Pampers

CAN YOU HAVE CHURCH ONLINE?

The other day while I was online listening to my favorite Christian woman’s radio station I started surfing the internet. Being a natural multi-tasker I began doing several things online at once:

  • Listening to The Imperfect Wives Show.
  • Researching women’s Bible studies for my small group that I will be starting soon.
  • Ordering pull-ups for Bam and Tooty.
  • Returning emails.
  • Editing photos.

I came across “The Internet Church.” It was a church, and subsequent community, based solely online. There wasn’t an actual “physical”  building but instead a “virtual” church built online around one common interest: “gathering together to praise and worship God.”

Some of the same things that you could find in a local church, you could find at “The Internet Church.”

They held a live Sunday worship service online (once during the daytime and then again in the evening), a live midweek service on Wednesday, and several small group meetings scattered throughout the week. Each meeting/service was held inside a chat room with video capabilities for the leader/facilitator, a chat room for the attendees, a presentation area where things such as PowerPoint presentations and videos could be shown, as well as several other features.

To say that I was completely amazed at the idea would be an understatement.

We’re in an era where almost anything can be done virtually. But having church? To me that is on an entirely different level. Because of this one website I decided to do some additional research (because that is what I do when a subject piques my interest). To my surprise I found several “online only” based churches. My first reaction to this discovery was shock yet again.

The sermons ranged from pre-recorded messages to live sermons, to sermons that were written out, no audio or visuals involved at all. But each church’s main purpose was to unite brothers and sisters in Christ online. One even went as far as to say that they wanted to take the internet back from such ugly things such as adult websites; that if someone could shine a light on sin they would shine a light on faith.

When put into those terms I started to change my thinking about internet churches.

So often the scripture “where two or three gather there I shall be” (Matthew 18:20) is taken out of context, but is it being taken out of context when used in this situation? I personally crave some type of fellowship with other Christians face-to-face, but with a son who has special needs and four other children actually getting us all into church without disturbing anyone around us is a next to impossible fete. Getting my main sermon online and then having a smaller group meeting in my home during the week would actually be perfect for me. I started out my first ministry by hosting women’s Bible studies and worship calls online via conference calls. I had a good group of women that would meet each week over the computer and by phone, but we became good friends and those relationships carried on offline. Now I have solid prayer warriors who will stop whatever it is they are doing to pray for me.

Isn’t this type of online Bible study not “doing church online?”

Is the message and the healing that we receive online or by phone not valid because it isn’t face-to-face or physical contact? Should this type of fellowship be discounted because we can’t “reach out and physically touch” the person teaching us God’s word or helping us grow in our faith? I honestly, and truly, don’t think so.

If you do not stand firm in your faith, then you will not stand at all.

Isaiah 7:9b (CSV)

I have been asked to pray for women online that I do not know. I have in turn asked for prayer from women that I do not know. My faith is my faith regardless of where I am; regardless of where you ask me. Who am I to turn down a prayer request from someone just because I can’t see them? That doesn’t make their need any less valid. Who am I to say that “I will fellowship with you all day long face-to-face; we can rejoice in Him and praise Him as long as I can touch you. But since I can’t see you, since I can’t touch you, because I do not even know if Sally is your real name, I can’t share in His goodness with you.

And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our meetings as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near!

Hebrews 10:24-25 (CSV)

Regardless of where each of us are located geographically, we need to mutually promote each other to do good things and love each other so that we don’t entirely abandon gathering together. Instead, we need to uplift, instruct, and encourage each other every single day. Do I feel as if you can have church online? Yes. Do I feel that it should be your ONLY means of fellowship? No.  And if we are thinking in that context,

Is internet church the new tv or radio church?

I remember growing up and you could easily tune in on Sunday mornings to TBN or listen to a church’s broadcast on the AM radio station if you knew that you were going to miss church. I remember plenty of Sunday’s where we gathered around the television and followed along in our Bibles, prayed along with the pastors or evangelists on tv, and then ate our Sunday dinner afterwards. Has the internet replaced the television in this sense? Because we can have so much more “interaction” with each other online has the internet allowed people, pastors, churches, missionaries, and evangelists to touch lives and reach people in a different way; more than what the television could ever do?

What say you?

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One Comment

  1. wow… i guess you can have church online… for me there’s nothing like gathering together with others in praise and worship. i think this service is alright if you can’t make it to the physical building… I don’t think I could do it solely online. church online… it was bound to happen.

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