I'm glad you agree with me that there is great power in the web for potentially gathering the scattered church in these post-Christian times (at least in the west) and to help church planters with such a difficult task. If you think about geolocation features on practically all our online interactions, it can get pretty exciting, pretty fast :)
Be blessed in your efforts to proclaim the glory of God and advance his kingdom. I hope you'll keep in touch, brother
Thanks so much for such a thoughtful summary of our journey here at NewSpring. I was particularly glad you were clear with your readers that the final decision was by no means a "retreat" from the online world, but purely a matter of ensuring that we are staying true as a church to the vision God gave Perry for NewSpring.
As the web pastor for NewSpring Church, I believe our position is very close to Brandon's: We do not advocate our "web service" as a replacement for church, but a pathway of discipleship toward full, physical communion. I think it's the wisest stance from a practical and a theological one given the current state of technology and ecclesiology that has only just begun to wrestle with living in a hyper-connected world where the line between the virtual and the real is increasingly blurred.
Preach it brother! Online church is an extension of how we incarnate the gospel in the world. We cross paths where people are. Simple as that. It's no less living for jesus than knocking on doors in your neighborhood ... or giving your neighbors a cup of sugar. People live in the real world as well as online. If there wasn't some overlap between the two, I'd be more worried!
Right on the money again!
This is the money quote: "I think the best approach is to observe the fruit of church online and baptism online." I'm comfortable letting results judge ultimately. The only issue of course is whether the church has EVER had a good way of evaluating the "success" of discipling its congregations?
Vince: this is the million dollar question. But it's going to take a brave church to pour lots of resources into creating a completely separate experience when there's no proven audience. If evangelism is the key -- and not serving church members -- we HAVE to explore this from the creative standpoint AND the message, but it feels like this may be an uphill battle for a while.
What a great and much needed set of points about the shortcomings of most church web strategies. more power to you.
Great post, paul. Totally agreed. We definitely agree that narcissm is a danger. What frightens me is that if you take a representative slice of the Christian twittering world, it's just as self-promoting and just as message-blasting as the world. We need to figure out how to come up with a praxis that dials that down ... but I've struggled to figure it out, and I haven't seen any good examples. Have you?