Is church in the digital realm a good idea?

OPPOSING VIEWPOINTS: Should Christians embrace, run away from, or be cautious of the trend toward bringing church online?

Andrew Oxenham and Marlin Gramenz

Same Gospel, different format

By Andrew Oxenham

A traditionalist is one who thinks that just because things are the way they are, means they ought to be that way. Traditionalists often adopt an attitude of suspicion towards things which they feel seek to supplant or replace the old way things are done. Oftentimes, contemporaries claim that an online church is illegitimate and that church ought to be in a physical building. Yet just because things have always been a certain way does not mean they ought to continue in that same way.

However, the Bible is expressly concerned with the message behind the words. One may derive much meaning from the Scriptures by reading them and then working through how they apply to everyday life – even if the particular scripture read gives no commandment which directly speaks to everyday life. I’m for digital church because it runs off of a similar basis retaining the essence of what church is, while discarding traditional format.

One of the main focal points of the evangelical church is the message, the meaning conveyed to the congregation through the words and teachings of the pastor. I am for digital church because this kind of meaning can translate into a digital realm. The digital church retains the essence of what church is while only changing the format – and those who decry digital church do so mostly on the basis of traditionalism, and those who do so on this basis are mistaken.

Church is more than a sermon

By Marlin Gramenz

While the new application for the Northland church in Florida on Facebook can be a benefit for some, the digital church should be approached with caution. The church is more than just the message that is preached on Sunday mornings, but a very real way of living out much of the message given. While we can listen to the Gospel being preached via streaming audio or video online, gathering in a physical building brings much more to its attendants than the pastor’s message each week. You may save yourself some gas, the trouble of having to look for a parking spot or even getting into your Sunday best, but what you lose is the irreplaceable human interaction.
Community, personal relationships (face-to-face) and the support of the body of Christ (not only in any type of communication that can be had online, but also the tangible presence of people) is something that we were created to have, and you’re not going to get this while sitting at home. I suppose you can gather friends and/or family together around the computer each week, but you are then denying yourself a more dynamic type of shepherding that church leadership is supposed to provide for their flock.

Corporate worship is another thing that would be sorely missed out on. While we are meant to worship and praise our heavenly Father, doing this both individually (in more ways than just singing to Him, mind you) and corporately bring the body together in a unique way.

The digital church may have its place in the world, but don’t forsake your brothers and sisters of the faith for the comforts of your own privacy and individualism. Plus, maybe we shouldn’t be on Facebook all that much anyways.

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