I haven't had much time to blog or chat in the last week but I did listen in to one chat - the interesting conversation that Shane Hipps ignited during the week about virtual communities through his video. Especially relevant to me because we are less than one month away from the Cyberchurch Symposium in London that I will be attending and hosting.
In my absence, others responded to Shane including Scot McKnight, who wondered whether Shane was talking about ecclesia or koinonia, and John La Grou who found Shane's argument a little on the dualist, techno-phobic side of the fence for a guy who has written a book on electronic culture [see my review]
If I were to add a thought to these thoughts on virtual church, which i might do during the week if i get more time, I would start by saying that the church has been dealing with virtual church for a lot longer than people think. In fact, the church dealt with a similar scenario in the 1940's which might be worth another look.
No, not computers. They were just big number crunching monsters back then. I am talking about radio and its impact on the idea of virtual church.
Christian broadcast through radio, by the 1940's, had a strongly evangelistic flavor in the USA but in the UK it was seen as an extension of the church service. While the Americans were preaching the gospel on as many stations as they could find, the Brits were exploring the impact of radio on worship, eucharist and church life.
"It was discovered that some of those listening on Sunday evenings were either on the fringe of organised religion or lapsed members, while others had never been at a church service and had no personal faith." Religion By Radio: Its Place in British Broadcasting", by Melville Dinwiddie, 1968.
Yes, the author of that really cool book that I found was Melville Dinwiddie. Try saying that name three times without laughing.
he he ha he . . . No, I couldn't do it either.
And, if you will forgive me, just another observation: Early forms of emerging church that appeared in the 1980's on both sides of the Atlantic were, just as 40 years earlier, concerned with evangelism (USA) and worship (UK). Thank you. Thank you very much!!
Back to the 40's. By the 1940's, war had broken out, millions of British people had gone overseas and the idea of widespread virtual church was suddenly not so far fetched. Soldiers serving on the continent could not attend an English service BUT they could tune in to a broadcast . . .
"Worship was next to impossible in crowded huts or barrack rooms, but on isolated gunsites and on ships on patrol in dangerous waters, participation was sincere and meant a great deal to those taking part, as did listening in hospital and sick-room. The audience to such broadcasts could be numbered in the millions, many more than attended all the churches in Britain on any Sunday. . . This vast multitude of home or national service worshippers could not be placed in any recognised category except as men and women in search of a loving
God." page 47.
When the war was over, Britain was more open to the idea of a radio-resourced church outside the brick and mortar. 1946 was the year of the experiment.
Interested??? Keep reading.
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