Since this is a religious post, I should start with a confession:
However, since he reviewed LifeChurch.tv as a non-believer I reckon my angle on this will be original.
I’m interested in the implications of LifeChurch.tv as one of many churches now using social media to engage new audiences. For sure, churches operating on New Media platforms is nothing new. However, this is usually for the purposes of either post-service dissemination of material or archiving. But there are a new breed of church 2.0s that are conducting services in real-time with social media tools that connect you to for one-2-one real-time prayer (MSN Bless-enger?!). I guess if it’s a healing service on LifeChurch.tv the laying on of hands is done with a Facebook ‘poke’!
Interestingly, Chris noted that “lots and lots of people were chatting in the live chat window”. However is this such a good thing? If I were in an actual service, the noise of people having conversations around me would detract from the speaker. In the same way, I wonder how much people are really listening to the sermon whilst they tweet and watch for responses in their feed.
And what of the instruction to the Hebrews to “not stop meeting together” (Heb. 10:25)?
A #hashtag might be a platform, but it certainly lacks the seductive draughtiness of a church nave filled with fellow worshippers.
And how are sacraments such as Communion supposed to be administered to an online audience?
Not even a Macbook Pro can withstand the effects of water baptism!
Furthermore, will digital churches increase our mainstream culture of consumerism and individualism (i.e. Church must serve me at my desk, but I don’t serve it) or will it widen our experience and appreciation of the global Christian community as we converse with believers from across the globe?
Is this really church at all?
For me, these are concerns not criticisms. This novel adoption of social media has much potential for good.
For those who are wary of stepping into a bricks-and-mortar church, LifeChurch.tv offers a low pressure environment to experience church in one’s respective comfort zone. The *social* media aspect of LifeChurch.tv also provides a great service to those who are unable to leave their homes and find the *broadcast* nature of television and radio sermons unsatisfying. Furthermore, the missional aspect of Christianity becomes a whole lot easier when the punters are willingly congregating in your Twitterfeed!
Consequently, I’ll be watching the development of online churches with interest. So long as these sites are supplements rather than replacements of the real thing, then I see no harm in it. In fact, I think its high-time The Happy Church jumped on the social media bandwagon too! 🙂