Online community, part 1
“Love community and you will kill it. Love your brother and you will build it.”
– Dietrich Bonhoeffer, as posted at The Boars’ Head Tavern two weeks ago
Some thoughts meant to introduce a hopefully ongoing conversation:
Online community within the church has been around long enough now that at least most of the church leaders know of it and have an opinion.
This article from leadershipjournal.net gives a great overview of the church and internet ministry. Advocates like lifechurch.tv (a multi-site church with numerous campuses in the U.S. and around the world, an online campus at its website and a virtual church in Second Life) are represented. So are its critics like Pastor Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle.
But here is an angle I have not seen addressed by the proponents nor detractors:
For those who struggle to fit in socially with other people…for those whose jobs cut them off from the 9-to-5 world that many Christians seem to live and work in….for those who have been hurt by the church….is online community such a bad thing?
While the ideal may be to steer people towards a safe community they can participate within in the flesh…what do you do when the ideal isn’t practical?
What do you do for the guy who has to drive a truck 15 straight days on an interstate somewhere out West?
For the woman who has to work the night shift six days a week because that’s the only job she can find that will provide for her kids?
For the person working 80 hours a week to pay off debt or put the kids through school or pay a medical bill?
We still live in a 9 to 5 world.
Try to find a decent restaurant open at 3 a.m. that isn’t named Denny’s or Waffle House. Or, try to show up at the mall at 11:45 p.m. and see if you wait 10 hours for it to open up or if the mall cops show up to send you home.
What do you do, if you are a church leader or concerned Christian, for people whose lives don’t neatly fit into the evening and weekend slots most churches have their community groups and service activities (and services) scheduled into?