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One change, which I might welcome, would be a move away from the Sunday-morning-hand-shake comment "good sermon pastor" to the Tuesday-evening-feedback-and-brainstorm open session. I think people will still expect professional ministers (if they have one) to do their homework and be students of the word, but they may be engaged in the process and not just with the end product.
Demographically & culturally, my congregation is not yet where John suggests, although I would love it. We only have 1 service, Sunday a.m. In our bulletin, I list NEXT week's sermon text for their study. On Wednesday, I send out another email highlighting some aspect of the sermon or touching on another point not mentioned on Sunday. It keeps things fresh in their minds and keeps them processing. What I'm shooting for is my own Tuesday blog where they begin to interact, like a weeklong online small group.Wishing I had a crystal ball, I can't wait to see how the "movement" you describe affects things like the LCC and elections in general. Like I said, our church ain't there yet, but I'm hoping we are in the next 2-3 years.
Eventually, someone will invent a Christian video game that will be visually stimulating, highly interactice and multi-player so your entire small/cell group can play together called youWorship or something like that. The preaching and worship will be spectacular, addictive and non-threatening. This will suffice until we develop holodecks, after which all church services will move into the virtual world. When the machines get smarter, they will take over and turn us into batteries and we will all live in the matrix.
Here's what I posted at ThinkChristian.net (apparently at the very same time Keith was posting his observations):First, congratulations on being this year’s Time Person of the Year!The annual honor went to “anyone using or creating content on the World Wide Web.” Time noted “the shift from institutions to individuals—citizens of the new digital democracy.”Hmmm? This caused me to remember a newspaper column I wrote nine years ago (9,000 years in Internet time) about the effect of this new technology on Christianity:There are some wonderful web sites devoted to serious Bible study and getting to know God better. (Check out www.BibleGateway.com) But, is Bill Gates going to hold your hand at the funeral home or hospital room? Does America On Line serve communion? Does Netscape let you borrow folding chairs for your graduation open house? Not really.Real churches don’t hide behind glitzy graphics and ghost-written copy—all perfectly packaged by some over-paid computer genius. Real churches feature imperfect pastors and parishioners. And sometimes the music is dated, the doughnuts are stale and the sermon is boring. But it’s real.Real is messy. Real is sometimes boring. Real doesn’t have all the answers.But real is a Sunday school teacher who still loves you after you throw up in the sand box. Real is a pastor who gets out of bed at 3 a.m. to meet you at the emergency room. Real is tears of joy when a member celebrates another year of sobriety. Real is a God we can call “Father.”So, are cyber churches the wave of the future?Get real!I still agree with that nine years later, except I'd change Netscape (who?!) to Google.Jim
I wish my congregation would join the internet revolution. I have around 50 morning worship attendee's at this time and right now only one of them communicates with me through email. Of course, I must consider that we only have two young families that might actually know how to use a computer. Perhaps the internet revolution will the way the church can capture the lost generation of young people. james Moore
The changes you predict are cultural changes that probably will come, but they will come to the church later than everywhere else I think. Participation is big among the young but not with older people. A separate concern of mine is that my generation of women are not strong in engaging the world of ideas online (though we did engage with your last post on evangelical spokspersons). If women want to have an influence we will have to post more serious things than pictures of our puppy and diary entries about our day. Otherwise the Internet will be just one more means for males to dominate the world of ideas while women go to the kitchen to make small talk.
I can hear what you are saying about participation in the process--people seem to want a say in what those in power are doing.HOWEVER, denominations may be too late for this. Most of my people could care less about the denomination or even having a voice. What you say applies to PASTORS like me but not to my laymen. My laymen think the denomination is just as out of touch with the local church as the congress is with the real world and they don't even care about it. They think the money we send in is not any better than taxes and they think we get less back for it.But I do agree that pastors who are Internet savvy expect to be in the loop on denominations deciding things. I don't see any effect on worship or preaching--my people are pretty happy with sitting and listening.
MyChurch.org is "next" in this trend.It'll be interesting to see if the "user generated content" wave will transform the mid-week connection of some churches through that site.I believe it will... even though I will still do funerals and loan out folding chairs :-) Yippie!-David
I believe the wave of internet religion is past and it has been missed. It, like religion in the pews, has now been corrupted by the religious snake oil salemen out for a buck and some folks to think they are great.Sadly, when things move from grassroots to those in higher positions, it is destroyed. Too bad we can't have Jesus without the Pharisees!
Let's not forget Podcasts and live streaming video. When in the past have we been able to hear sermons from many gifted speakers across the nation. With the abundance of quality teaching that can be found digitally, couldn't our local churches, especially the smaller ones, become more a forum for discussion than a congregation passively listening to a pastor who may be better served spending his time shepherding his flock as opposed to preparing a sermon? I'm sure we've all been in services with pastors who weren't particularly gifted speakers but who had abundant talents in other areas. The church could be more about serving and loving it's community and less about glad-handing the pastor on Sunday morning for a "good" sermon.
OK I missed it for many readers this week... I had not planned to speak of how the Internet ITSELF changes church as much as how the Internet CULTURE (e.g. participation, expected input & response) may have a cultural ripple effect in the church... while a person may not even have an Internet connection they can be influenced by the culture... But I failed to make that clear in the article...sorry about that.
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