Can an Online Church be an Authentic Church?

The Greek word for church is 'ekklesia'. In today's English what this means is a "gathering", an "assembly" or a "town-hall meeting" if citizens. If it is an 'ekklesia' of God or Christ that means it  is a gathering of people who belong to Jesus Christ. Paul said to the Christians at Corinth, "You are not your own, you are bought with a price". (1 Cor. 6:20). So when people who truly belong to Christ gather together, it is is the church.

I do not believe that there is anything in the New Testament to say that an authentic church is defined in terms of "physical presence". That is not to say our bodies are unimportant in worship. I think our bodies ARE important, because they express our ATTITUDE towards God and they are also TEMPLES of the Holy Spirit which should be reserved FOR GOD. But the physical location of our bodies is not what defines "presence" – neither does it define "belonging".

You can belong to a local church even if you are away for a few weeks.

You can connect meaningfully with people in your local church over the telephone.

As long as there is genuine heart to heart INTERACTION, you can have fellowship.

Paul talked about being absent in body, but present in spirit.

"for I indeed, as being absent as to the body, and present as to the spirit, have already judged, as being present, him who so wrought this thing:" (1 Cor. 5:3 – Youngs Literal Translation)

As long as we really ARE present in spirit, and its not just a cliche, then we really CAN be part of a gathering together in the Lord's name.

The New Testament uses a number of METAPHORS to describe the true nature of the church. Its important that we realise that these are METAPHORS – each pointing to an essential part of the meaning of church without fully defining the meaning of "church" or "ekklesia". The church is described as a BODY, a BRIDE, an ARMY, a HOUSE, a TEMPLE, a FELLOWSHIP and more. Each of these metaphors contribute to our total understanding of what CHURCH means – none of them fully define it.

I would argue that all of these metaphors point to a reality which can be expressed in the online world fully.

Churches need to be planted in the places people live, and today, many people actually LIVE in the online world.

Douglas Estes in his book "SimChurch" says on page 37, "Let's loosely define a virtual church as a virtually localized assembly of the people of God dwelling in meaningful community with the task of building the kingdom." I think thats a useful definition.

Is the Virtual World Real?

It is possible to create "worlds" online which are man-made worlds rather than worlds directly created by God. These worlds are "synthetic" but just because they are synthetic does not mean that they are not "real". 

I find that people online are often far more "REAL" and AUTHENTIC and HONEST in their relationships than people who attend social functions or gatherings in a physical place together. Whether people are offline or online, they can wear masks. When people wear masks, true fellowship is diminished. 

I can go online and find professing Christians who will easily open up about all kinds of sinful behavior that they are engaged in, and they are dealing with. It would be harder to see this happen in a regular church meeting. So often, regular church meetings are about singing together, hearing a message and then engaging in superficial chit-chat after the meeting, with masks firmly in place. It doesn't have to be that way in meeting where people get together physically, but it often is. But is this "real"? It all depends on your definition of reality. I think the reality that God is interested in is expressed in words like "authenticity", "honesty", "openness" as well as  "truthfulness". The online world is a place where if people choose to, they can express all these characteristics sometimes more readily than they can or will in a formal setting.

 

 

What do YOU think?

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About Michael Fackerell

The Christian faith is about Jesus. He came to save the lost. About Jesus Christ, Bible teaching, Testimonies, Salvation, Prayer, Faith, Networking.

Comments

  1. childofjesus says:

    Seeing no hunger for Lord in my family, friends & even church, I often asked God – “where are your people ? He then directed me to this site..
    When Isaiah asked a similar question, God answered in 1 Kings 19:18 Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel–all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him.”

    Thank you Jesus & thank you People.

  2. childofjesus says:

    As a young believer, I’ve been to many churches of various denominations to quench my hunger & thirst for the Lord. I’ve matured in all these churches & I thank God for revealing the truth and setting me free..
    I find this online fellowship wonderful as I can reach so many people in just one click!! I can express my views & understand others without any accent issue..I’ve never been used by God so much..I’m not judging or judged by other people by my outer appearance..We’re connected to each other by one Holy spirit..I love this online fellowship..Things have changed for good with this fellowship..Even if my timings don’t match with others, I’m able to catch with them whenever i get time..Thank you all for this beautiful fellowship..
    Heb. 12:2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

  3. Online church is new(i think so ’cause now only i heard about that) and is good rather than not having any place or community to share God’s words. But i think it will be more effective if the person joining online can concentrate (i mean he or she alone in the room or with other person but is also a believer who wants to join).. The online church is beneficial for those who really is not able to attend regular church service such as bed ridden patients or disables.. God still requires our body to be physically present in praising Him together with our fellow Christians. God bless!! I hope i can also join this online church. But I’m in UAE right now and we have different time in your country..

  4. good idea,many people don’t find themselves in their churches.This will be a non denominational World church for All believers in Christ our Lord!16

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