Is God online?

I went to Church last Sunday went today. The church in  Dorset where I was confirmed now has digital screen in the aisles which display the words to the banal nonsense that passes for modern hymns, the reverend is miked up and there is an informality to the service that went past the incompetent into something that seemed close to degrading God.

It was sad to see people who had been at that church when I was a child, being subjected to so much nonsense, even sadder to see that apart from a hardcore of committed tambourine shakers, there were no young people in the church at all. We took communion in the pews because the majority of the congregation would not have been able to kneel at an altar rail (which had been ripped out anyway). Despite its attempts at modernisation, this Methodist Church is dying on its feet.

Today I saw my son participate in an evangelical service in a summer camp set up by his school’s Christian Union. The CU has been in operation for over 100 years and appears to be going strong. What I saw this afternoon  impressed, this is a living community that does things for itself and unlike the Methodist Church, appears to be refreshing itself each year.

I’m not linking the success or failure of a Christian community to its capacity to go on-line. But it strikes me that apart from one or two e-mail addresses, the weekly notes for the Methodist church might have been written forty years ago.

By comparison, the Christian community my son is a part of , organises itself as kids organise themselves. It seems to exist on-line and off and is part of these teenager’s day to day world.

Is it any wonder that a Church that is resolutely off-line, has no children in its Sunday School , no teenager or young adults in the pews?

It has become a place of comfort for a group of pensioners; -(this I see as good). But what of the 50 somethings like me – will they return to the Church in their sixties or will this Methodist church be then , as so many Methodist chapels are today, a private residence?

Where then will God be found?

I’d be interested to know people’s views on whether God is on-line.

Is the internet an appropriate medium for Christian congregation?

Is the phrase “where two or three are gathered together” as applicable on-line as in physical presence. When I’m (1)64 will I be able to discuss my fear of everlasting damnation in an online chat-room , my body confined to bed?

I display a horrible ignorance here, I’d be surprised if there aren’t Christian groups all over the place who meet through chat rooms and the like to share experience in communion.

The trouble is that I’ve not heard of them, and I suspect most of the people reading this won’t have heard of them.

If the Christian communities in this country and around the world want to reach out, then here is the chance.

The urge to worship a monotheistic being is not extinguished in a generation, it must still exist though you could not guess so when looking at church attendance and the dwindling influence of the Church  in public life.

My prediction is that religion will reform, probably is reforming and will reappear in a new guise. For those in the established churches who are prepared to accept this change, this will be a way for them to spread the faith, for those who turn their back on the web and regard my question as irrelevant or sacrilegious, I predict a continuing journey into irrelevance.

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen, Director of First Actuarial, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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5 Responses to Is God online?

  1. martin says:

    I go to church very rarely these days but do still think about the Church, as I would any other business or organisation, to analyse it’s current position and wonder what I would do to make it more effective. In the past people like myself would at least attend church for “births, marriages and deaths”. But besides greater diversity in religion, it seems to me that fewer babies are now being christened, marriages are as likely to take place in some smart country house and most of us merely get a short service at the crematorium before we finally depart this earth. So the Christian Church is becoming increasingly irrelevant.

    Your blog posting got me thinking in a new direction about the Church and the impact of the internet. Does God have a Facebook page or twitter feed? Quite possibly the Church, like many other “bricks and mortar” businesses, has given very little thought to the impact of the internet and social networking revolution. Indeed a cynic would suggest that the Church now only exists to perpetuate “bums on pews” to help pay for repairs to church fabric and pensions for retired clergy. As it stands the Church has a huge legacy liability in terms of infrastructure and pensions and seems totally unprepared for the 21st century; if it were a business, the Church would be sure to fail in the same way as has Kodak. So if the Church is to embrace the internet as a means to extend its message to the wider community, a whole new business model will be needed. I doubt Church leadership has the vision. Ironic that.

  2. Jenifer Goodchild says:

    Hi Henry

    Try http://www.shipoffools.com and http://www.stpixels.com for starters. There are thriving church communities in Second Life if that’s your kind of thing. These debates are going on all over the internet – a biggie is whether you can celebrate the Eucharist through an online communion service. I can vouch for the effectiveness of online Christian community, shared fellowship, communal prayer and Bible study, and energetic Christian debate and friendship – I have found all of these at St Pixels. You might be pleased to hear that St Pixels started as Church of Fools, which was sponsored and financed initially by the Methodist Church. Its services are now run on facebook, but there is still a core site for discussion, etc.

    Give it a go – the amazing thing is to meet with Christians from all sorts of backgrounds, all denominations and all parts of the world. It’s really interesting to see how we all do things differently.

    Jeni

  3. Mark says:

    Hi Henry

    I took the family to the Methodist Church (that I attended as a child) for Christmas a couple of years ago…Same kind of service, and you perfectly describe the resulting range of emotions I felt in watching events unfold … a facebook version of the nativity, and a rapping vicar ….but at least it prompted a discussion from my French educated children… “Is it always like that in England Daddy?”

    We did Romsey Abbey last year … http://www.romseyabbey.org.uk/visit/brief-history/ …chalk and cheese, even if there are a few screens for those latecomers at the back….

    I’ll return to reading the fun stuff on your blog now … can’t beat a good bit of solvency II first thing in the morning!

    MB

  4. Tony says:

    I get a lot of good sermons online but that doesn’t replace coming together as we are instructed to do in the word. Everyone has something in the type of meetings described in 1 Cor 14:26 and one can really be built up in God. I wouldn’t be without it. If it is just an empty meeting going through the motions then who wants that?

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