Friday, November 14, 2008

Internet Ministry VS Real Life

I have in the past been against the idea of an Internet Church Campus, but a recent experience changed my mind with one POWERFUL caveat:

The Internet can not and should never replace RL.

(Real Life for those non geeks amongst us)

I had the very good fortune of attending a webinar hosted by DJ Chung of the Multi Site Director Leadership Network which featured Internet Campus Pastors Brandon Donaldson from and Brian Vasil from Flamingo Road Church. The testimony of these two anointed men showed me that the Internet can be an incredibly powerful tool for reaching the lost. Many people who are lost and disconnected from God and society turn to the Internet for solace. I was one of them.

Because I was one of 'those people' I understand how important it is to encourage those who find salvation through their Internet Church Experience to connect face to face with those of like mind in their location if possible. Accepting Jesus into your life is just the beginning. Living life as a brand new creature in Christ becomes a powerful adventure that can only be realized by and through interaction with real live human beings face to face.

Mr. Donaldson and Mr. Vasil - who both maintain a vibrant, worthwhile online ministry - expressed that while they celebrated when their members and Internet friends chose to seek out a Face to Face relationship with a group or church nearby, they did not encourage their Internet Campus Members to do so. I do not agree with this decision based on my own personal experience. Our Church is exploring the idea of an Internet Campus, but I can only endorse an Internet Campus ministry that always encouraged a Real Life component to those who are seeking.

I became an Internet addict because I wanted to hide from a world in which I found no hope. I wanted to hide away from the pain of every day life, and the atrocities that happen in the world. During that last decade of my dark depression, the Internet became my /only/ source of socialization, my /only/ way to interact with others. I was literally afraid to leave my own home. I was searching online for a Truth that I had not found in 'RL' and an Internet Ministry would have been a welcome haven for me. But quite frankly it would have been just one more place to hide.

Salvation r0x0rs! But that's where the adventure should begin.

I know now that the Internet is ripe for the harvest! There are millions, perhaps billions more people who just like me are hiding there. So now I fully advocate Internet Ministry - if and only if a real life component is highly encouraged.

I needed arms to hug me. I needed to see a real life smile. The Internet can not and should never replace RL.

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