Doing Church Online

The other day I happened to have a phone conversation with the pastor and author Douglas Estes. When I got off the phone, I knew that I needed to check out his book, titled SimChurch. I finished the book last night, and I have to say that it took me by surprise.

Honestly, when I first came across the book, I thought it was just another debate about whether or not the church can really meet online. I was very wrong.

This book has challenged me in a huge way. He brings up so many important concerns and ideas that hadn’t crossed my mind before.

Here’s one of many quotes that really made a bit impact on me:

…a recent survey of virtual-world citizens found that 50 percent of people surveyed don’t even believe the virtual world has sin in it. Why? Because it’s not real. Here the church is poised to fail big-time – to drop a ball of monumental proportions. Here’s how it will play out. As tens of millions of people flock to virtual worlds, traditional Christians who fear change in the church at large will see alarmist headlines about the virtual world and will dismiss the virtual world as one big sinful fantasy, as being not real. They will turn the virtual world over to its own devices, and tens of millions of people – with no true ethical compass – will embrace greater free agency and then write their own rules on what is right and what is wrong. Before long, sin in the virtual world will start to redefine [people’s perception of] sin in the real world; what’s permissible in the virtual world will start to seem less wrong in the real world. After a generation passes, new church leaders will ask, “How did we get into this mess?”

It’s a well-written book, and it has bolstered my passion for the Faith Promise Internet Campus. I’m very grateful for Douglas Estes’ thoughtful observations, and I’d highly recommend it to any pastoral staff who are interested in making a greater impact online.

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4 thoughts on “Doing Church Online

  1. Thanks, Kyle. I remember when I was doing some preliminary research for the book, I took a sampling of opinions from within the ‘Christian’ community. When asked whether online worlds were real, many said ‘no’. When asked whether online marriages were real, most said ‘no’. When asked whether online affairs were real, most said ‘yes’ very quickly. But then immediately went back to their argument that it’s all not real to begin with. I fear this assumed ‘reality’ gap will only serve to amplify the power of sin and brokenness in people’s lives in years to come. This is one of those areas in the book where I hope I’m wrong.

  2. Douglas, thanks for taking the time to post a comment here. Authors that engage with the online community and “practice what they preach” about connection are the best.

    I’m very appreciative of your work and your support of the online church.

  3. Kyle, thanks for encouraging me to pick up the book as well. I am almost done reading it and it has definitely opened my eyes to the possibilities of the virtual world impacting lives.

    Proud of you and what you have done through the iCampus. Your passion is contagious!

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