Online Church - extending gospel reach
Everyday Church based in south-west London launched an online church in September 2015. Everyday Church has planted many churches and the online church is seen as another church plant.
Everyday Church Online is just like a church that meets in a building. The only difference is that they meet and do life together on the internet. This makes it a church for everyone regardless of country, language, or background. It has recently been extended to 6 languages; French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish and English.
Another example of an online church is Crossway Baptist Church in Melbourne, Australia. Again, multi-location and services in various languages. The online church started in August 2015 and in their first year had 122,000 visits. They now have 13 church online services every Sunday with over 2,300 people from over 50 different countries attending. Their Facebook page now has over 73,000 followers on it who follow the church from over 80 countries around the world. About 8,000 people call Crossway their spiritual home.
Here is a video telling to story of the first year:
The apostle Paul reached multitudes through the communication channels of the day - people and letters. Wouldn't Paul use social media and the internet today? The gospel also spread along trade routes in those days - isn't that a description of the internet?
The net certainly enables us to reach people who would not be able to attend a physical location e.g. the housebound, people in other countries - perhaps sensitive ones. Also people who might be nervous about coming to a building until they can see what happens.
I'll leave you to judge if it is possible to replicate the level of relationship of a physical church community in the online world. On one hand, as Bill Milliken said in a recent blog post
on this site, "That ipad does not give you a relationship. Those aren't your friends. Friends happen by breaking bread with people, being in their face, listening to their hearts, living out life, being committed. That path's very important because it keeps us connected..We're more connected now and less relational than any time I've seen in my journey.".
On the other hand, many people do live comfortably in a digital world today and maintain their 'relationships' there.
Online tools are getting better and to do online church well requires expertise and organisation. The online service uses video created with the global online community in mind. People watch a service and can interact in a chat room with people from the church. Prayer is offered as well privately as well.
We should applaud such pioneering initiatives. Let's see what discoveries emerge and how God uses.
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Geoff Knott, 27/09/2016