What is a Online Church Part Two
Christians have historically embraced new changing technologies as a method to spread the gospel.
Alexander the Great’s army made Koine Greek a common world language. The New Testament was originally written in Koine Greek. The Romans built a network of roads for their legions. They wanted the ability to move troops quickly. It’s the same idea for American interstate highways. They were built for military purposes not commerce. In the Roman days, Christian missionaries used that network of roads, bringing the gospel to the known world. The advent of the written codex made using scrolls obsolete. When the printing press was developed a tireless machine could print Bibles, instead of handwriting them. Johannes Gutenberg wrote, “God suffers in the multitude of souls whom His word cannot reach,” in the preface of the 1454 Gutenberg Bible.
In more modern times, the radio broadcast Christian programming with radio preachers becoming household names. Today over 1500 totally Christian radio stations exist in the United States alone. The word televangelist wasn’t known until television technology brought them into everyone’s home. The iPod brought Christian podcasting. “The internet is the greatest communication tool ever invented by humans. It is the most rapidly adopted communication technology of all time.” Says, David T. Bourgeois in his book, “Ministry in the Digital Age.”
A physical Bible (yes people do still buy them) can be read by only one person at a time. It will forever remain exactly as it was published, in the same language and version of the text. Now consider a website like http://bublehub.com or http://biblegateway.com One can look up verses in multiple translations or languages. Potentially, millions even billions can read the bible at the same time 24/7. We should think of our outreach in terms of internet access. Today our words can go to places and reach people that we physically can’t all with the push of a button. We read books and newspapers online. No need to subscribe to a physical newspaper being dropped at your house. Think of the forests and trees being saved by this alone? Ink and paper are becoming a thing of the past. One for the history books so to speak.
In a brick-and-mortar church, the pastor delivers a message. If you were not there, you didn’t hear him. Let’s examine an online church, the pastor delivers a message. It is videoed, the audio made into a podcast, and all posted on the church website. Anyone with internet access can view or hear the message at their convenience 24/7 forever (as long as the website is there). Translation tools are reaching the potential that soon someone can hear the message live in their own language. It doesn’t matter where the church is located. Online churches are reaching thousands each week with the gospel message. Think of the metrics of church attendance in light of this? Most churches measure every head under the roof, from babies to the pastor himself. Now, online churches measure how many logged in or viewed a message. How many people can visit a virtual sanctuary verses a physical one? A online church can evangelize, build community, have great communication, provide distance learning, oh, and have ministry.
Relationships can be built online. However, corporate worship, prayer, baptism, and the taking of the Lord’s supper are physical things that need a local church. This doesn’t mean that the online church will not be a huge benefit across the world. Individual prayer, the gospel preached, questions answered, relationships built, can all be accomplished online. Emails have all but replaced snail mail and are free to send.
In the agriculture age, people created wealth by growing food. Land was of great value for growing crops and raising livestock. The more land a man owned the greater his wealth and power. Then came the industrial revolution. Mass production was the name of the game. Farmers became factory workers. Today, we live in the information age. Factory workers are being replaced with those with technology skills. Like it or not, through the internet, we are becoming a global community. The marketplace is now the computer or cell phone. I heard about one man who wrote a complete book using his cell phone. More people are able to work from home now because on the internet. Online gaming connects people in real time. Streaming media companies are replacing television and movie theaters. Remember blockbuster video?
The church has in its hands a global communication tool. How will it be used? Can cultural barriers be broken down? Will the Gospel finally be preached in all the world? Most churches today are trying to figure out how to reach the millennial generation. At Grace World Church, we are trying to figure out how to reach the world.
Haven’t read part one, Click here!