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Is it possible to do church on the Internet?

June 16th, 2009

There seems to be an assumption among some churches that there is a need to get worship onto the Internet. Now don’t get me wrong because I love a bit of good worship but I think sometimes we miss the point that just because we can do something doesn’t mean we should.

I’ve seem lots of attempts to get worship on the Internet and most of it seems to be aimed at getting non-Christian or nominal Christians to join in. However I think there are some big questions that need as answer.

1. Can people participate in collective worship online?
I’m not really convinced that many churches have worked out what collective worship is when they do it in their own building and so really struggle when it comes to getting it online. Can people worship together with others when the only connection is through wires? What is participation in worship? What is worship anyway?

2. Is the Internet capable of delivering what is required?
I’m not personally convinced that it is – yet. The Internet is, after all, a collection of people using computers to join together. Do the computers get in the way or do they help? Most efforts seem to revolve around streaming video but surely this is nothing more than a cheap and convenient way of doing T.V. – perhaps there is something more that the Internet could offer. I’ve also seen efforts where people are expected to type a prayer on the keyboard. Is this really collective worship? Doesn’t this reduce worship to an action rather than a state of heart and mind?

I think the Internet is a great way of getting a message out to others but I sometimes wonder if we are missing the boat? Should Christians concentrate more on what can be done rather than trying to force the issue by trying to do something that the technology is just not capable of delivering.

I’m still thinking all this through so I’d welcome some of your thoughts. I fear I have raised more questions than given answers.

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