More than that

Online Church?

The argument rages on, is it possible to be a church online?

Community

The detractors say that the church is a community,  and you can’t do community online. I think that they are still living in the dark ages when a computer game was Tomb Raider, or Super Mario, or even Pong. People locked themselves away to play and it was antisocial. But this is the age of Facebook and Twitter, social networking sites are just that, social. Real people talking to other real people in a real way via the internet. Did I say that it is real?

It mat not be community in the way that the way you live in real life is community. But then the community twenty miles down the road may not be the same as the community where you live. Rural communities are a different kind of community to that of medium sized industrial towns. In large cities the communities in the leafy suburbs are different to those of an inner city council estate. People who commute are often members of more than one community, a work and a home one.

Online communities are another form of community, but they are communities nevertheless.

More than that

But this talk about community is missing the point. This blog has been missing the point up to now. It isn’t about community – it’s more than that.

Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Matthew 18:20

The Apostle Paul said: “So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” Romans 12:5 both ESV

We get our word “church” from the Greek ἐκκλησία (ekklesia) which means gathering or assembly. So to speak of a church as a community is right. But it’s more than that. It isn’t just where two or three are gathered in the name of Christ that matters. It’s more than this. The presence of Christ amongst them counts too.

It’s all about Jesus

In Paul’s example we are members one of another because we are one body in Christ. It isn’t about us. It’s All about Jesus. It is the presence of Jesus that makes the gathering of people in a building on a Sunday morning. Similarly it is the presence of Jesus that makes an online church a church.

This blog was written after iChurch was featured on Songs of Praise on the BBC last week and I have drawn on my experiences over the last eight years at the online church St Pixels.

I’ll give the Apostle Paul the last word:

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 1 Corinthians 12:27

7 thoughts on “More than that

  1. Agatha

    If the members of the online community support each other with real help in times of difficulty e.g. providing transport to hospital, meals for families who can’t think straight for their child’s illness and a real shoulder to cry on, then it counts.

  2. Pingback: Journey through the field of life » Blog Archive » Why Bother?

  3. Balaam Post author

    Agatha, you’re so right.

    People have travelled large distances to visit people who are ill, or even to visit people with a sick relative when the relative does not frequent the online church. Even going distances to the funeral of someone who’d they’d only known through words on a computer monitor.

    Yes online community is real.

  4. Chas

    Difficult for me to comment without some bitterness, because I have found that the physical church, with all its advantages, seem to be unable to e.g. provide transport to hospital / whereas, at least, a certain online community / also, admittedly, not able, understandably, to help in these physical ways / is there, and pays attention / which I value, deeply …

  5. Balaam Post author

    Sorry to hear that Chas,

    I’ve been fortunate in that the physical churches I’ve been to have been good in respect of things like lifts to hospital. It’s a shame they all can’t do it.

    What I’ve found is a strength of the online versions is the ability to pick up those who have been hurt in the physical churches.

  6. A church

    Pastor X [name removed - Ed] was preaching that some persons are in heaven enjoying nice things, this mean there are more individuals affected by the things in Hell. If people are in Hell struggling what about their judgement and the resurection of the death. X seems to know more about this then the bible. These folks have been sentenced without a judgement and if they’re alive in hell, why the necessity for a rescurection. X will receive his wrath on that they for deceptive thousands of people and blasheming the title of God

    [Editor's comments. I have removed the name of the church that sent this reply and unlinked it. The subject of Heaven and Hell in general, and Pastor X in particular are not the subject of this blog. I suspect that this was sent by a spam-bot. If I get any further replies from this site it will confirm that this church is sending out spam - not something I approve of. The name of the Pastor has also been removed for possible libel law infringement. Balaam.]

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