It’s a slow news day if they need filler like this. From The Observer & Eccentric:
God used angels more than 2,000 years ago to announce the birth of Jesus.
Today, churches are using Facebook, Twitter and other modern technology to help spread the Gospel message.
Though the message is the same — God loves everyone so much he sent his only son to save them — the way that message is delivered has changed over the centuries.
“We definitely see social media as one of the languages of the culture (now),” said Josh Isenhardt, 30, social media pastor at NorthRidge Church in Plymouth Township. This generation considers Facebook a modern-day town square. “Why wouldn’t we have a presence there?”
If you Google “Second Life Church” you’ll get a fair number of hits. Images, too. I don’t know how many people dived into that game wholeheartedly, but it’s not hard to imagine that some of them used it as an opportunity to proselytize in virtual neighbourhoods as they set up worship sites there. Landover Baptist mocks this approach, but via World of Warcraft:
“…the real True Christians™ pick the Horde to play as characters and start their guilds in Horde territory because they like the challenge of sharing Christ’s message in a perilous, lava-soaked, environment. Sometimes you have to pester people for weeks before they listen to you. I followed some stupid gnome around for 8-hours until he finally told me that he would accept Jesus as his Personal Savior if I would just shut up and promise not to contact him anymore. Now that rocks! Praise God!”
Of course they’ll use whatever popular social outlet exists in order to spread their message. They’ll go where the people are and Facebook alone has more than 800 million users. A large chunk of that may already be Christian but others won’t, and some will be the wrong flavour of Christian in need of correcting.
NorthRidge added a virtual campus this year. It has a brick and mortar campus in Plymouth Township, and meets in schools in Saline and Howell.
In the virtual campus, members from around the country and world simultaneously visit the church’s website (northridgechurch.com) at 7 p.m. Sunday to watch a rebroadcast of the weekend service and participate in a live-time chat room, even praying for each other.
“Church online is for those people who are not ready to step into the physical location,” Isenhardt said.
I got hooked on the internet back in 1995 while in university. Friends set me up on these things called “talkers” which were telnet based on-line hangouts. In its heyday, the one called Resort had a hundred or so logged on at any given moment of the day and an overall population of around 10,000. Maybe more. This was before most people even understood what the internet was or wanted access to it. Maybe it was happening to others but I don’t recall anyone trying to lure me to Christ in all the hours I used those places — they were too busy propositioning me for net-sex. I still keep in touch (via Facebook) with a few spods I net-friended back in the day, too.
The internet is large enough for any type of person to find a group that fits his or her interests, be they religious, or political, or controversial, or down right nuts. And if that group doesn’t seem to exist, it’s easily created and will get found by others who need it eventually. For example, atheist-based internet hangouts have been a boon to those in areas where their lack of belief would make them targets for abuse or worse. The internet is a hell of a good thing for atheists. It’s not always easy to get together in person but if enough people are reading a particular blog or aggregate, it creates a sorely-needed sense of community. And not only that — look at all the money atheist reddit users raised for Doctors Without Borders: $203,000. Talk about awesome.
Yet with all the modern technology available to churches today, nothing will take the place of people personally talking to their family and friends about Jesus and inviting them to go to church with them, Rose said. “At the end of the day there’s one best way (to spread the Gospel message) and that’s being involved in the life of your neighbors.”
True for atheists/humanists as well. I missed out on a Freethinker pubnight last night, alas, but I was too busy packing and sorting out things for my upcoming trip home for Christmas. I hope we manage to lure some more people into our group next year, not just as token members who rarely participate, but some who really want to be active and involved with what we’re doing. We have a great group and I’d like to see it get even better.