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The Internet – faith and evangelisation

A good e-friend of mine is making a presentation on the connection between social media, faith, and evangelisation. This friend emailed me for some ideas about this as well as some of the dangers of internet presence. I wrote:

1) I believe in the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints
This means I stand in a tradition that values the local Christian community, and also the wider universal Christian community. In this we have included saints on earth and saints in heaven “…with all who stand before you in earth and heaven, we worship you…”
In this new context the universal church, the church catholic, includes the virtual world.
Just as previously our valuing of the universal church, and including those who have gone before us, did not lead to neglecting the local community, so the valuing of the church in the virtual world need not, and ought not to, lead to a neglect of the local community IRL (“in real life”)

2) As Christians discovered people living in the Americas, the Pacific, and so forth, they went there in mission, ministry, and evangelism. Now that so many people live in the virtual world it is enjoined upon us to be a presence in the virtual world in mission, ministry, and evangelism.

3) As Jesus says: “be in the Internet, but not of the Internet.”

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4 thoughts on “The Internet – faith and evangelisation”

  1. I think on the internet there is more of a possibility of a “meeting of true minds” without the impediments of time, place, social and physical conditions. On the internet I can share freely with an interdenominational group of friends and exchange converse which has some depth rather than being restricted to social inanities. I am liberated from sterotypical ideas about people based on extraneous factors which persist on intruding into “real time”. I am available 24/7, internationally. “Real time” is but a shadow of that Time in which every tear shall be wiped away and we shall see him as he truly is. In the Internet we come closer to our true being.

  2. I think the important thing is coexistence of both a faith life on the internet and one in “real time.”

    The “cyber-funeral” that I recently attended on Facebook (FB) that I blogged about some time back is a good example of this. The deceased had many friends who were blog/FB friends who had never met him in real life. They were grieving same as for someone they know in real time. Many were bound by being “Episcopalian friends.” Doing a BCP rite II funeral service on FB connected us all to the healing that we have come to find in the BCP funeral service but it would have been impossible to have attended his “real time” funeral. Very powerful.

  3. I get frequent visitors to my Daily Office website who write, “Thanks for showing me how to do this and explaining things. I’m a new Episcopalian (or just back after many years) and I don’t want to bother people at my church asking such basic questions. On your site I can take things at my own pace and look around without bothering other people.”

    If by evangelism we mean introducing people to Jesus, then no, I don’t do much of that. But if evangelism includes nurturing people taking their first steps on the Way, the web can be very helpful.

  4. It seems to me that the onus is on those who want to make a distinction in kind between Internet and all other forms of communication at a distance. Was Paul “doing virtual church” when he wrote letters to Christians far away, for them to listen to much (= weeks at least) later? Yet Paul’s letters are “virtual” and “asynchronous”. Christianity has always since the beginning lived with both virtual and “real” expressions of faith and life. Get over it 😉

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