Of dinosaurs & Luddites

{Be advised that the author is a suspected Luddite and is reported to have traditionalist tendencies in Christian ministry. Virtual pastors and/or church members need not take offense. –The Administrator}

Just a few off-the-cuff thoughts that came to mind while reading How to Create Your Own Internet Church Campus. Article excerpts are italicized.

Traditionally, when churches were organized, their goals were to impact the community and bring the gospel to the locals . . . Today, things have changed and the moment your church goes online (social media, website, mobile, Internet TV), you have the potential to become an international ministry. [emphasis added]

1) The article doesn’t explicitly disparage “traditional” ministry (TM)–community outreach, gospel witness, etc–but the implication seems to be that TM is needlessly small & shortsighted. It’s also outdated–the domain of ministry dinosaurs.

2) Set aside any qualms you may have concerning the claim that “you have the potential.” It sounds like international ministry is the goal for today’s church. If my church doesn’t end up with an international ministry does that mean we haven’t reached our potential?

Enter the Internet church campus and the need for an online extension of the offline church.  The Internet church campus is . . . a fully functional, interactive online experience with an online pastor and online members. [emphasis added]

1) A “fully functional, interactive online experience” isn’t a fully functional, church experience. Online baptism anyone? virtual communion?

2) The more I consider the true nature of the Church, the more “internet church” sounds like a ministry looking for a need.

This is not just a place for people who don’t want to come to service and choose to watch online—this is a place for people who are online members of this church and possibly live in places where traditional church locations are not an option. [emphasis added]

1) An “online member” isn’t a church member. In fact, let’s up the ante–church attendance doesn’t make one a church member either.

2) If an “online membership” isn’t about not wanting to come, why would one choose to be an online member? It begs the question.

Lastly, you need an online pastor—someone to lead this online community, guide the conversations, pray for people, connect with people and disciple people as they utilize this online ministry platform. [emphasis added]

1) I assume that one of the online pastor’s top priorities would be securing an online praise band for the worship services.

2) I seriously doubt I will ever be able to conceive of online discipleship. Mutual encouragement & accountability is hard enough when you have direct contact. In the absence of “life-on-life” discipleship I think virtual discipleship is little more than a fantasy. How does marriage counseling, church discipline, etc. work in a chat room?

Reading how to “leverage technology to expand ministry and further the great commission” makes me wonder why God didn’t delay the incarnation until the dawn of the digital age. Can you imagine how much greater the god-man’s ministry potential would have been had he been able to wield an iPad?

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Author: Jonathan P. Merritt

Happily married father of six. Associate pastor for education at Edgewood Baptist Church (Columbus, GA). Good-natured contrarian and theological Luddite. A student of one book.

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