Yesterday morning, I had the opportunity to preach at the Heritage Service at Resurrection Leawood. This is the first service on Sunday at Resurrection beginning at 7:45 AM. It was the first time that I had lead worship in several months and it felt really good.
We considered the story of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples in John 13 and looked at ways that serving others builds relationships both with those being served and with those with whom we serve. We serve others out of gratitude to God and a clear hope for the future.
The past Sunday morning was not a great at Resurrection Online. First, here is a normal graph of connections from the evening service on June 13:
The blue line is the number of computers that are connected and the green is the estimated worship attendance. The black line at the bottom is the iPhone stream multiplied by 10 so that you can see it on the graph. Here is the graph from Sunday morning:
The initial drop in traffic was the result of a loss of connection between the Resurrection Servers and the Wowza flash servers at Amazon sending out the Flash stream. iPhone stream was not affected, likely as it was on a different subdomain.
Losing the video feed will cause people to reload the page which puts a heavy load on our web server. The deep spike is when the web server was rebooted as people were trying to reconnect.
Uptake around 11:27 was from people seeking to reconnect. The Wowza flash servers were not able to maintain the traffic when people were seeking to reconnect so we did not sustain those who sought to get the connection.
The main player was switched to the iPhone stream around 11:40 and the flash servers restarted.
Restarting the flash servers regained their functionality.
Although the initial failure was out of our control, we are taking steps to mitigate the issue. Sending streams to two different Amazon availability zones with a primary and back up built in as well as continuing to explore other content delivery networks will hopefully move toward preventing this in the future. We have a catastrophic failure like this less than 2% of the time, however we can and need to do better than that.
Thanks to Ian’s quick work on Sunday morning to salvage those that were able to continue worshipping and the entire IT team for the amazing work they do to make Resurrection Online and all of Resurrection’s tech happen well.
I am working with a design firm on a redesign of the Resurrection Online website and part of the process is an assessment of the current website, including: “Who are your major “competitors”?”
I can tell you that it is not primarily other churches. For Resurrection Online, competitors include
All other content on the web.
When you show up to a physical church building you have decided that you will be there and there is a good deal of social pressure that will keep you there until the service is over, or almost over. Online you can be gone in a click. Hmm…
Sometimes history can be found just under our noses. Sometimes in our attics. And every so often we can find it in our local church archives! Such is the discovery of a rare audio recording of the Evangelical United Brethren Declaration of Union worship service of 1946. The recording was made on two transcription disks which were found by the Rev. Ron Kite of Faith United Methodist Church in Hutchinson, Kansas.
Several months ago, I received a copy of several articles that explore the intersection of religion and the internet. I want to record some of my notes on the articles and at the same time share them with you.
Information space – highlights “internet communication and information exchange. Focus is on the ability to allow individuals to utilize a variety of technologies to interact with data” (113).
Common mental geography – “regards the internet as more than a tool for communication, but a mechanism that individuals can use to construct a common worldview” (114).
Identity workshop – “a model enabling people to use online space as a place to learn and test new ways of being” (115).
Social space – “the online context as a social space where making connections with people is the primary goal” (115).
In addition to these four areas, Campbell asserts that the internet can also be understood as sacramental space, which “presents the internet as a sacred space and encompasses aspects of all of these models” (118). According to Campbell, online spiritual community can be considered in several ways:
Religious identity – “characterizes the online community as a group committed to each other through their shared faith and chosen liturgical expression or religious tradition” (126).
Spiritual network – “characterizes the online community as designed and initiated by God for a specific purpose” (127).
Support network – “characterizes the online community as existing to provide a spiritually and emotionally supportive atmosphere, emphasizing transparency and disclosure in its membership” (127).
Worship space – “characterized as creating a worship space. The internet becomes a tool for transmitting spiritual activities” (128).
I found these narratives to be quite helpful when considering the direction of Resurrection Online. I particularly appreciate Campbell’s encouragement to choose a particular model, “Identifying with a particular narrative helps an online community promote internal order and maintain coherence. Each model emphasizes a particular motivation for technological use, while highlighting a shared belief that the internet can be set apart for sacred use” (129).
Which of these models do you find to be most helpful when considering the internet? Which of these models do you find to be most helpful when considering Resurrection Online?
Several months ago, I received a copy of several articles that explore the intersection of religion and the internet. I was fascinated. I had no idea that there was scholarly work being done on the subject. My background in biology and small experience in research combined with my current job description as Pastor of Resurrection Online lead to great interest for me. I want to record some of my notes on the articles and at the same time share them with you.
Spiritualising the Internet: Uncovering Discourses and Narratives of Religious Internet Usage by Heidi Campbell was published in 2005 in the Heidelberg Journal of Religions on the Internet. You can download a PDF copy here. “Spiritualising the Internet means the Internet is seen as a technology or space that is suitable for religious engagement, whereby allowing users to include Internet-based activities into [the] rhythm of their spiritual lives” (2). Campbell presents four ways in which the spiritualization of the internet could be discussed:
“The Internet as a spiritual medium frames the Internet as a technology possessing, within the hardware and wires, an unseen realm where humanity can encounter the transcendent and spiritual experience” (13).
In this discourse, the internet functions as a ‘spiritual network’ (14).
“The Internet as a sacramental space discourse frames the Internet as space which can be shaped to allow people to engage in new or traditional religious rituals online” (13).
In this discourse, the internet can serve as a ‘worship space’ (14).
“The Internet as tool for promoting religion frames the Internet as resource able to connect with religious people and activities that can lead them to spiritual transformation” (14).
In this discourse, the internet is a ‘missionary tool’ (14).
“Finally, the Internet as a technology affirming religious life frames the Internet as a resource for building a communal or individual connection with a particular religious tradition or form of life” (14).
In this discourse, the internet supports ‘religious identity’ (14).
I very much appreciate Campbell’s treatment of the subject and find these four discourses to be a good classification.
The internet as spiritual medium does not make much sense to me and I do not believe that this way of spiritualizing the internet could come out of Christian tradition. The final three ways of considering the internet are all ways that Resurrection Online is seeking to spiritualize the internet.
Resurrection Online seeks to encourage people to engage in both traditional and new religious rituals through the internet. Right now, this is primarily in the weekly worship service.
Resurrection Online seeks to be an evangelism tool which can be used to connect with non religious and nominally religious people. I believe that this is a tool for those that are already connected with Resurrection to use when inviting others into the community.
Resurrection Online seeks to affirm a United Methodist way of being a Christian with the flavor of The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection with a particular purpose, vision and journey.
What do you think about the categories that Campbell presents? How might Resurrection Online live more fully into these categories? Would that even be helpful?
Will you share your thoughts, feelings or opinions in the comments?