Virtual fellowship is just that…virtual. Cyber-relationships are not real, they are 2 dimensional at best. This trend is a poor substitute for the assembly of the brethren and almost a mockery of the means of grace. It’s simply televangelism for the ipod generation.
Sure the net’s great. But, it can’t supplant the vibrant fellowship which a get up in the morning, read the bulletin, turn to hymn #150, everyone pray for Mrs. so and so whose father just died, drop the kids off at the nursery, local church gives the believer.
In the end though, its marketing genius. I mean, church is big business man. Paypal baby!! Sometimes its hard not to get too cynical.
But then again, I’ve been handed a very tidy apologia for a very tidy sort of cyber-assembly of the brethren in a blogservation with a self-proclaimed web campus staffer. He took some of my comments personally, as so many do, and accused me of claiming that his Christian brethren weren’t real. However, I never said his brothers weren’t brothers in Christ…just that his relationship with them was two-dimensional (well, even I do admit that is a bit inflammatory). While web-brothers may certainly be believers and therefore real, a web-campus relationship with them cannot satisfy corporate worship. Web-campus contact is a poor substitute for church. While I am a firm believer in the dialoguing capabilities of the web and the possibility for gospel encouragement therein, it ain’t the gathering of the saints man. As you can probably tell I ain’t so pomo yo. I genuinely hope that the Web Campus church trend does not catch on. Heb 10.25 and Act 2.42 help me to view a more touch, taste, and feel ‘qwertyless’ kind of church. Really don’t see screen substitutes as being all that healthy.
To all virtual church advocates out there: If your friends are so excited about the possibilities of community then why don’t you encourage them to try it with 3-dimensional people–some of whom remember when SPAM was breakfast, don’t have a clue who David Crowder is, paint sanctuaries together, play ultimate Frisbee with the youth group, bake cancer casseroles for the ill, and who just might put a check in your hand to help out with that new baby. But, maybe that’s the very type of stuff that our generation is too selfish to put up with…..we’d much rather have that confirm/deny option…..you know, like Facebook.
I’m not even going to get into the administration of the sacraments problem. Needless to say, I appreciate your sentiment–you’ve got responsibilities, an urban tribe already formed, 3 hours on Sunday morning? That’s just a dead form. But, in my end of the world we have next door neighbors (single dad and 3 year-old boy) who need the community of faith but don’t even have cable. IM isn’t going to do it for them. But, our old ladies church daycare can babysit the child one morning. Meanwhile I take the dad out for lunch and open up a bible written on real paper that I can give him to take home. Then I can pick them both up for church on Sunday where they can meet elder Jones who owns a contracting business that can give my neighbor a job. The deacons help out with money for church daycare while my neighbor builds decks. He meets a nice girl in singles class on Tuesdays, they get married. Now they’ve got cable, he’s a foreman and his boss requires a laptop for the job. One day he’s searching for a book on Google and he hits on Newspring and gets directed to the emerging community forming around the new web campus. You think that’s what his family needs? Maybe so. Then again, people like my neighbor probably are a little too backward to understand the sort of ‘moving forward in worship’ that the communal difference of a Web Campus can provide. But, I could be wrong. It has happened a couple of times before.