This is a series of responses to questions about an internet campus from a previous series of posts. Do you have any other questions? Feel free to leave them in the comments and I will try to respond to each one. Thanks!
Interesting. I think this begs a question about the nature of community within an online/virtual Church campus. We all know that community can form online. The question is this: what kind of community is it? Is it partial community that never materializes? If we follow a God who chose to self-reveal by incarnation, “in the flesh,” what are we to think about a virtual community that never incarnates?
What would be the nature of community for an internet campus? These are great questions and ones that give me the most hesitation when thinking about an internet campus. The best case scenario that I have in response to the first question is that persons would gather with others to worship together as a part of the internet campus. If a group of 6 to 12 or more met regularly with an internet connection and worshiped together there would be a physical community of which they were all a part. This would be preferable to individuals worshiping as a part of the internet campus on their own. However, even individuals in a room with a computer by themselves would be entering into a community of which they would not otherwise be a part. I think that community can exist online and as Clif reminds me – the potential to connect with others in this way has never before been possible in history.
What about the reality of God’s revelation through the incarnation? This question touches on an understanding of God and on an understanding of what it means to be the church. I would not want someone’s experience of church for their entire journey of faith to be as a physically alone individual as a part of an internet campus (see the previous question and also the question from a previous post – What about the sacraments?). I do believe that the people of the church should gather physically, but not necessarily all the time. God came to us physically once in history in the person of Jesus Christ and continues to be with us in the non-physical presence of the Holy Spirit. I believe that the Holy Spirit would be at work connecting those worshiping as a part of an internet campus.
I know that I need to keep thinking about these questions and I have The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture: How Media Shapes Faith, the Gospel and Church waiting for me at The Well Bookstore when I get back to church tomorrow. I also have on my list to read Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. Do you have any other resources – online, books or otherwise – that might be helpful in considering these questions?
What do you think about my responses? How would you respond to this question?