a bit more on twitter etc.

17Jul09

John LaGrou posting on Scot Mcknight’s blog has entered the debate

How do faith-based organizations respond to virtuality? The hardest part may be convincing the community that there’s a good reason to sit and stare at a stage, listening to a religious lecture. The virtually-connected church now has on-line access to the finest teaching and preaching imaginable, accessible at their convenience, 7 x 24 x 365. Of what value is physically proximate information (e.g., stage-centric pastor) when the average person can now access the best sermons, preaching, teaching, and cross-referenced commentary on-line?

I particularly like this bit:

I listen to the world’s finest theological discourses via my Blackberry while I workout at the gym or on my morning walk or driving in my truck. Why would I spend my time sitting in an audience every Sunday to hear a comparatively mediocre religious talk? In the last few weeks, I have absorbed hours of profound spiritual monologues and conversations with people like Tozer, Yancey, Peterson, and Fr. Rohr.

While I have a different set of podcasts lined up on my iPod and I mostly listen in 15-minute chunks (i.e. the time it takes me to walk to work or back) I agree; over the course of a week I too absorb (a couple of) hours of profound spiritual discourse.

I agree with LaGrou inasmuch as these changes and approaches are by no means the end of the Sunday sermon, but they are part of the landscape of the 21st century that anyone born since the 1970’s, and even more so the 1980’s and 1990’s (goodness that makes me feel old) live in.  Church is being, and will be redefined as he says “from a place of one-way information transfer to a distributed gathering which fosters authentic collaboration – in many ways mirroring the multi-way virtual experience.”

A profound shift is happening in society, be it how we learn, access multi-media content, work, manage our health care and so on, so why we think church will somehow escape from this, or be different is beyond me.

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5 Responses to “a bit more on twitter etc.”

  1. 1 A

    Its an interesting approach, and one that I feel significant empathy with, however, there seems to be two flaws in the cunning plan that has not been considered.

    1. For a lot of the podcasts (read God-casts) that I listen to, if there were nobody going to those churches, there would be no sermon as the profoundly spiritual preachers who are gifted by God to be excellent communicators would have no congregation to share their discourse with.

    2. The assumption is that Church is the Sunday morning service – “Why would I spend my time sitting in an audience every Sunday to hear a comparatively mediocre religious talk?”
    I don’t! I go and spend time sitting in an audience every Sunday so that I can be refreshed by communal worship, a communion meal and a common goal, something which helps us to recharge so that we can go and be the Church relationally with and to each other and the local community during the week.

    It’s valid to question the approach, medium and delivery style etc, but lets not get confused about what Church is; – the people. Its pretty difficult to worship on your own, I find I need constant encouragement to stay focussed on God’s mission, God called us to be a Holy Nation – not something you can do on your own.

    It says in 1 John 4:12
    No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

    You can’t love one-another if you only listen in remotely and are completely virtual in your communication and communion – it ceases to be ‘common’ – i.e. something that is done collectively, and if we want the non-believing world to see God’s Glory – John says that we need to love one another – that unfortunately or not can only be done in a Church environment of one form or another. (At least that’s how I read that verse!!) ;)

  2. 2 tobit

    thanks A, some wise points. I would like to comment on them a little ;-)

    1.most spiritual spoken stuff is spoken for an audience, I agree, although for me, that is not always a church audience. The monologue podcast sits there, waiting for me to d/l it, reflect and then share my views and opinions with others, and one way this sharing is made possible is via the internet. (Think about book clubs in relationship to this)

    2. (taking your comments on worship as point 2) Again, I agree, worship is generally a together activity, although I would view worship as a response to a creator/rescuer God, so for me that could happen alone, with one or two, hundreds or thousands, be happing ‘in real life’ or be mediated through some kind of networked communication.

    I am not an advocate for a sole remote/virtual communication, although I would disagree that a group activity mediated by technology (say webcasting, group IM/IRC) is (can be) done collectively (I think back to my days supporting Christian refugees using IM, etc.)

    I am going to assume when you say we can only love one another in a church environment, you mean that in its broadest possible sense, i.e. (any) people together, regardless of place or intention. (and I agree, church is a people, not buildings)

    I think the main point of my post, and the main point of the post I drew on was that things like twitter, podcasts are changing/redefining both the ‘things’ and the way ‘things are done’ (whether we like it or not…).

    We cannot really escape this redefining (ok, we could take an Amish approach) so we need to at east understand it from more than our own perspective

  3. 3 A

    “I am going to assume when you say we can only love one another in a church environment, you mean that in its broadest possible sense, i.e. (any) people together, regardless of place or intention. (and I agree, church is a people, not buildings)”

    Yes exactly, I was saying its very difficult as an individual on your own completely and I think it is probably very difficult to do it exclusively virtually!

  4. 4 tobit

    this is kinda just occurring to me, what if, the model of church we find ourselves in (us being church) actually further individualizes and isolates us. I mean, it is easy to be isolated while being physically present (for whatever reasons) whereas sometimes the virtual supports a process of de-individualization and relationship building (can find research support for this, somewhere! try http://www.glocom.ac.jp/proj/kumon/paper/1996/96_06_10d.html – not read it in detail, but one of the profs I work with is a social psychologist interested in hyper-communication).
    did you check out the NT Wright video?



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