I was reading an article in the Leadership journal this past week entitled "First Church of Facebook" about a Facebook congregation organized by a church in Florida. They offer 5 Facebook services during which a pastor is leading via chat. They have about 2,000 folks participating on a weekly basis.
I am torn about this. On the one hand it isn't the way church has ever been done before. I don’t find that argument particularly helpful unless it is combined with an argument based on the wisdom of a particular tradition. On the other hand 2,000 people are hearing the gospel that may not otherwise attend church. Yes, Paul and the apostles spread the gospel where people were and wherever their message would be heard and today a lot of people are on Facebook.
But yet I wonder. What role does physical presence play in worship (and ministry)? Christ came purposely in the flesh, he was incarnate, and when he ministered to people he touched them. At its essence worship isn’t an individual experience but communal. How is community built among strangers that don’t meet? What of the message is lost without the physical presence of people including the worship leader? What of the message is lost without symbols, movement, and even smells? Could something be gained? Do they sing? What about the sacraments?
Yet, 2000 people are being reached. I wonder…
What do you think?
[The article I was referring to from the Summer 2010 issue of Leadership has not yet been posted on the web. However, there is a very thoughtful article entitled "Church... Virtually" also from Leadership that is worth your read.]