This is a guest post by Gabe Taviano, a.k.a @GodsMac.
An individual’s opinion of online church and normal church make this debate entirely subjective. So many look at the question of whether online church can be authentic as needing a yes or no answer. Hasn’t that always been a problem of the church? Everyone believing that they have to be on the same page, when they could be much less worried about what everyone else is doing and focusing on what God wants for them.
In order to be effective at all, online discipleship requires some of the same things that offline does. Accountability and relationships were modeled by the first disciples in fairly small groups. Can a large online church audience effectively be discipled?
If an individual is connected with a few others, most definitely. And maybe even done more effectively than in person. Given the fact that people tend to be able to spend more frequent with people online than they do offline. Knocking down common barriers like schedule and distance.
But there are a few areas where I see big complications rising up when a church sends a few pastors to focus solely online. How does a church handle spiritual growth when common practices like baptism, communion, service and evangelism arise? From the experience I have through DigitalDisciples.net, the online connection works best when it ignites a desire to grow with others in person. I’ve seen too many online within the video game / chat room / second life arenas that attempt to justify their time doing little for the kingdom.
We definitely have many questions to bring up as the web continues to spread and improve, that’s for sure. From what I’ve seen, the priority always needs to be placed on where and when we can effectively grow the kingdom. Truthfully, I don’t think many online evangelists could tell you that they’re also doing much to reach people offline. We can only “be virtual” for so long, right?[image by wynnie]