Here's a good question to consider...does Digital Ministry help form Community? My answer from the video above is below
I think technology helped form community. I think it just gave people more tools to help form the community. What I’ve noticed if you look at it from a business perspective, when a business is trying to build a groundswell around a brand, sometimes they focus on these campaigns and they’re trying to get people to have buy-in. The church doesn’t have to do that. People are already bought into the gospel; the people are already supporting the church, we’re just giving them better tools to form that community around the church. That’s one of the main aspects of internet church is building communities that can connect online and feel like they’re a part of the local church, whichever church has this internet church campus.
I believe that technology is giving people the tools to connect much more often. The question is are those connections deeper? They can be, but technology is giving you the tools to do it but not necessarily making you do it or not do it. It’s just giving you the conduit to make those connections happen.
So, again, I think technology is providing us with tools that are helping us form greater communities, reach out to people, and commune with people that we probably would not have met. I can commune with people that are all across the country that I may never see, or all around the world that I may never see, but I can connect with them via digital media or social media channels and stuff like that. I think that helps me relate to them and talk about their life experiences and my life experiences and relate that to our spiritual experiences.
Now, on the flipside of that coin is how can technology be used to breakdown communities? The same tools that can be used for good can also be used for bad. If I have a sincere desire to break down the community, break down the unity and take my dislike of a ministry or the gospel and use it in a manipulative manner, I now have the tools to manipulate people. I think that’s one of the drawbacks of the digital tools that we have. People have to be much more cognizant of how thorough is the message and how thorough is the messenger. That type of stuff just makes people much more aware.
The benefit of that is technology gives us access to so much more; so much information. That’s the premise of the internet, access to information. It’s much more effective than the TV and the radio and the printing press and so on and so forth so it gives us access to information so much faster and helps us to make sure that the authenticity and the validity of the information and the message that people are bringing to us is actually valid and real. In my experiences, church was where I went to look for healing, where I went to look for salvation, where I went to look for community, interaction, encouragement and all the things I looked for at the time in my life when I opened myself up to church.
The question is can those things be given to me online? If somebody tells me that I need to read Romans 10:9 to be saved, if they tell me that in person, can they tell me that online? If they can tell me that online then how does that not make it church? I was able to receive my salvation through the guidance of somebody. Just because we weren’t face-to-face does that mean that I’m not saved? So, those are the types of things we have to look at; can you receive the same things online that you can receive in church? Now, if we get down to being baptized online or can I lay hands online, then that’s a different conversation and probably not the things that can happen online. But, for all intensive purposes, when we look at can church happen online and can we impact lives and save people and proclaim the gospel online, I genuinely believe we can.
I just think that where church happens from a theological perspective is going to continue to be debated as more ways come available that church can occur. I’m thinking back in the bible when they were talking about church happened in the upper room and stuff like that, once you left out of a room does that mean you cannot have church unless you’re in a room, an upper room? Can church happen in a mega church? Churches were smaller before, so when mega churches came on the scene could church happen in a mega church even though the building was so much larger and people were getting lost in there.
So it’s just that where church happens, I think, is the question that’s going to continue to be debated. And because we have internet church and methods and technology to use to reach people online with the gospel, I think wherever we can reach them with the gospel, however we can reach them with the gospel, that becomes church - basically church without walls.