Friday, May 11, 2007

Doing Church online

Over the past 5 years I have been watching some of the creative thinking and examples coming out of the UK related to the possibility of doing church online.

There is I-Church started by the Oxford diocese of the Church of England back in 2003 that aimed to be the CoE's first cyberparish. I actually attended the dedication of the I-Church in Oxford back in summer of 2004. There of course was also the Church of Fools experiment, 3-D virtual church environment that got lots of international attention during its 3 month launch in 2004. I also had the opportunity to attend 2 services at that time. I mentioned in a previous post that a PhD in Durham is currently doing some interesting work on these 2 groups, and this week I reviewed an article on these two groups soon to come out in the journal Online. I also learned that another cyberchurch I came across recently St Pixels is a reincarnation of individuals previously active in and connected to the Church of Fools.

Today I learned of another manifestation of cyberchurch coming soon to a virtual space near you from a Cynthia Ware a new friend and connection who is also exploring how new media and Christianity may interconnect. She suggested I check out Church on the net which is an evangelistic project about to be launched and according to the project leader, Nicola David
"is designed to help bring the concepts of God and church into the comfort zones of people who are in no way currently engaged with either."

Church of the Net is connected to the UK 'fresh expression' of church" initiative which is a partnership of the CofE and Methodist Church which began in 2004 with the aim to resource mission through encouraging new and different expressions of church life. It is fascinating to see how these many different forms of e-church have been emerging on the other side of the pond.


TallSkinnyKiwi said...

hey you! great to see you over here in UK.

good post. i will check out the new thang going on.

Tim said...

Hi Heidi

'Church on the Net' does look interesting, though the site at present is (IMHO) a little underwhelming as an evangelistic tool. I'm bemused by the decision to include details of how many people are leaving church on the front page of a site supposedly intended to encourage people to join - and as an online community enthusiast, I find their emphasis on encouraging people to join a physical church somewhat disappointing. On the other hand, online churchgoers (like Western Christian TV watchers) are overwhelmingly offline churchgoers already, so that emphasis on the physical church is perhaps not misplaced.

It'll be interesting to see how 'Church on the Net' develops, and whether they decide to ask other online churches for advice - something almost all online churches have so far seemed peculiarly reluctant to do.

Best wishes,

Tim Hutchings, Durham