Fostering Virtual Faith: Is online community real?

14 Mar

As the internet has become more apart of our lives, discussions have been around for years about the possibility of a virtual church.  Here is an article that speaks about a truly virtual church, and how it desires to reach out to Millennials.

The Rev. Sion Gough Hughes, pastor of a Protestant church in Melbourne, Australia, was surfing the web a couple years ago when he happened on a Facebook page that challenged his understanding of his calling. 

Here is the link for the full article.

Here are some statements from the article:

  • “The Slate Project is showing the church how things can be — interdenominational, thoughtful, spiritual, inclusive, open, even helpful to those who need help,” Hughes says.
  • The Slate Project is one of the few designed to exist principally in cyberspace.
  • The Slate Project — so named to evoke the idea of a clean slate for Christianity — came into being as part of a church campaign five years ago to revive, renew and reach out to a new generation of followers.
  • Some say that while “internet church” has advantages, it functions best in tandem with a real-world connection.
  • “Distance becomes irrelevant, and shared beliefs and faith become the central part of discussion.”

This last statement makes a strong statement about how true community can be built around shared beliefs regardless of the distance.  The church however, does not claim to be simply an online church, but has a gathering in Baltimore, Maryland.

While virtual communities, like the Slate project may have a sphere in the future of the church, as humans we long for true intimacy beyond a virtual relationships.

There is a power to human presence. There is warmth that feeds your body and soul that can only be felt through physical expression.  There is power that can be developed from a local community of believers reaching their neighbors.

What are your thoughts about a virtual community?  Do you consider this truly a means of reaching emerging adults?

Dr. G. David Boyd is the Managing Director of EA Resources, a nonprofit designed to equip parents and church to understand and minister to emerging adults.  He is also the founder of the EA Network.

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