Jason Bedell of Forefront Church in VA Beach has chimed in with a great series of his own on this topic. Extremely well done and thought provoking. Click here to view the entire series and get in on his thoughts.
This week I’ve been looking at Internet churches and churches with internet campuses. I’ve written about the pros and cons of internet churches/campuses. I do think the cons outweigh the pros as far as a full-fledged internet campus/church is concerned. Today, however, I want to wrap up the series by asking this question:
Is there a place for internet church?
I think there is. Here are some ideas:
When inclement weather prohibits a church from gathering. This past weekend was a perfect example here in the southeast. There were a number of churches that streamed a service online. Many Christians stayed home and watched a service when just a few years ago, they wouldn’t have gone to church at all due to bad weather (although a family can totally “do church” at home). For more info on how to do this, and do it quickly, contact Forefront Church’s preacher, Jason Bedell. They did a super job this past Sunday.
For those confined to their homes, hospitals, etc. As a hospice chaplain, a great majority of my patients can no longer attend church. Some of them have access to computers with hi-speed internet. An internet church service would be a great alternative for them. Many, however, attended very traditional churches when they weren’t sick. This would require traditional churches to invest in some technology. This could be a great way for more contemporary churches to partner with traditional churches to serve those who wish to attend but cannot. I have a friend in the hospital who has been tuning into Central Christian Church’s internet campus. He loves it! I could also see nursing home facilities investing in a little technology to partner up with local churches to let residents view a church service instead of tuning into the theological cesspool that is TBN (that one may get me in trouble…).
For those in the armed forces. I’m not sure if a live stream could be done over to the middle east, but I’ve heard of members of our armed services gathering around computers in other parts of the world to view a service. Internet church could be a great alternative for members of the armed forces stationed overseas that have access to the internet.
For introducing new people to the church. This is, by far, my least favorite reason. It could be abused, unless the proper channels are put in place. Maybe a sample service could be posted online and not changed so that people don’t simply tune in week after week without committing to the body. If done properly, this could be a useful tool. It still doesn’t account for the fact that the main people this would reach would show up to church in a vacuum–without a previous relationship with people in that church. And the chances are slim that such people will stick. The best way for that situation to work is a member pointing a friend to the internet service and then following up.
What are your thoughts? What is the next wave of innovation that could impact the church (for ill or for good)?