19 June 2009

The Online Church

I just finished reading an article in the June 30 edition of the The Christian Century, and it's got me thinking.

The cover article today focused on the way the church has become somewhat irrelevant (my word, not theirs) to the 30 and under crowd. Lenora Rand says, "For many, perhaps especially in the under-30 crowd, walking into a church on a Sunday morning is the equivalent of entering a foreign country in which you don't speak the language or know any customs. It may be a nice place to visit, but you really wouldn't want to live there."

It goes on to articulate that many have found F@cebook and Twitt3r to be a virtual community that does much of the same thing the church was intended to do - to encourage us to connect with one another, to know what's going on in each other's lives, and to commit to pray for one another. Tw33ts and News Feeds keep us up to date on what is happening in one another's lives in a way that even e-mail, and certainly not the phone or face-t0-face conversation, can do.

Churches are more and more relying on these and other social sites to help make connections with the under-30 crowd. Even Immanuel does it. We have a group for parents, for youth, for college kids. I send them messages about once a week to let them know what we're doing. I use my status line to promote events. Up to this point I've resisted tw33ting for the purpose of the church, but I've been considering how it might benefit the young community here.

The Christian Century argues that - for it's good and it's bad - we rely on the virtual community. We are busy. We are engaged in a thousand things. We are constantly in our cars. So what the virtual community offers is a chance to keep up in our fast-paced lives.

I'm not saying they're right, and I don't think the article is, either. But I do think it's important that we recognize the disconnect many of our church systems have for some people.

What do you think?
Is the church relevant?
What is the benefit of social networking in the life and work of the church?
What are the risks?

Chime in, I want to hear you!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Social networking is good for keeping the church informed (announcements, prayer requests/ praises, ministerial thoughts), and can be used to encourage people to visit that might not otherwise think to attend a church.

However, attending should remain a high priority (Hebrews 10:25). Just my two cents.