Church Online: Resurrection Internet Campus?

Yesterday, I met with Clif Guy to be in conversation in response to the possibility of a Resurrection internet campus. The idea was a part of Pastor Adam’s weekly e-note to the congregation. From Adam’s email last Friday:

I have been feeling an increasing tug on my heart that we should develop an Internet Campus of the Church of the Resurrection. The goal of this site would be to offer church for both the unchurched for whom this will be a first step towards becoming a part of the church (either ours, or if they are from another city, a church in their community – we would look at having links in major cities for people to find a church that had been to our Leadership Institute), but also exploring what it means to be the church for the next generation. We’re pulling together a team of staff to explore what an Internet version of Church of the Resurrection might look like and how it fits into our mission of “building a Christian community where non-religious and nominally religious people are becoming deeply committed Christians.”

A couple churches that currently have an internet campus – LifeChurch.tv and Seacoast Church. What do you think? Some questions that Clif and I discussed:

  • What does it mean to be an online church?
  • What type of staffing would be needed?
  • How do you connect with people?
  • How do you create a shared experience?
  • What about the sacraments?
  • Would this have an effect on United Methodist polity?

What are your questions? What do you think? I would love to hear what you have to say. Feel free to share any thoughts comments.

5 thoughts on “Church Online: Resurrection Internet Campus?

  1. What an interesting concept! I’m a student at Wesley Seminary, and just on Monday around the dinner table some of us students were discussing some new ideas of “church,” including the idea that a church could be a network of small groups that connect together as a larger group something less frequently than weekly (i.e., monthly). It seems possible that Christians may begin to find their primary identity of church affiliation in the small group they attend rather than a congregation. If this trend becomes reality, meeting in a specific place becomes far less important than meeting as a group. One could even see small groups meeting weekly to view the Pastor’s sermon (either live or taped) as part of their own small group worship experience.

    Of course, if “internet church” means that small groups never meet with a larger body, this raises questions about the sacraments and the ability for Christians to connect to other believers beyond their own small group. Of course these new ideas have profound impact on UM polity. I personally believe conceiving of church as a network of small groups, whether they gather as a larger group monthly or connect somehow over the internet, challenges us to rethink the role of elders and deacons in congregational care. The outcome, I think (and hope), would be granting permission for small group leaders to preside at communion. That would require several significant and concurrent theological shifts in the tradition.

    As for the internet church, I applaud COR for exploring this new territory. Please bring back some grapes for the rest of us to enjoy!

  2. Mike – Thanks for your response and great to have a connection from Wesley. How is the construction going on campus?

    I think that you are right than many people feel most connected in a congregation when they are in a small group, of many kinds – home or work based small group, accountability group, Sunday school class, etc. This is certainly the situation at Resurrection. That the congregation has to grow smaller before it can grow larger.

    I think that you raise valid points of sacraments and connection outside pre-arranged groups. A shift toward the model that you are suggesting would affect the particular role of the ordained clergy. I wonder if it might be more of a shift back to a circuit rider type model – similar to early methodism?

    Thanks for your thoughts and I will try to continue to post on this topic.

  3. Andrew,
    Thanks for the response. Yes, I’ve thought about the return of the circuit rider in his context, and how that might fit the kind of church model we’re talking about. However, what if the Eucharist is a central part of the weekly small group experience in such a way that an ordained elder is unable to attend every week? Are we bending our missional ecclesiology around an institutional requirement for an elder to preside at communion, or is it possible that our missional situation can redefine our ecclesiology (and institutional expectations) in such a way as to change our understanding about who can preside at communion? Just thinking outside the box for a moment…

  4. And the construction is progressing painfully slowly … just like my sanctification…

  5. Mike – I agree, I think that the opportunity to receive communion is an important part of living as a Christian community. An important way that we can receive and experience God’s love – means of grace. I resonate with the tension that you express between responding to the mission field and maintaining the current requirements and orders of ministry. Would there be a process necessary for small group leaders to have sacramental authority? Who would make the decision? Would there be any training? What do you think?

    Have you had a chance to look at the Study of Ministry Report to the 2008 General Conference from GBHEM? I have found it to be intriguing. I would be interested in hearing what you think at Living Stones or here. You can find the article here – http://www.gbhem.org/studyofministry/index.html

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