The podcast in my previous post had Steve Brown posing a question for after the break: â€œCan we â€œdo Churchâ€ on Facebookâ€, but Steve never really re-posed that particular question when they got back.
I think that a lot of people looked into the book out of that kind of expectation. I think that we have a lot of people who tend toward a YES answer to that question. I prefer to describe it rather as â€œextensionsâ€ to church. The vast pool of connection to unlimited resources and people and â€œrelocation/a-locationâ€ makes Social Networks and their enabling technologies and tools an important set of tools for highlighting and enabling education, conversation, and to some extent, proclamation.
But worship, ISTM, is a particularly sticky, dangerous place to â€œdo it onlineâ€. Again, not saying donâ€™t explore, experiment, envision. But I am wary of calling it â€œonline worshipâ€. Too much â€œlack of presenceâ€ seems to be inevitable. I donâ€™t throw out the possibilities here, just raise that up for consideration. Is there not a central role in worship for â€œbeing presentâ€ to one another? Isnâ€™t being Godâ€™s own presence kind of wrapped up in very integrated ways to â€œthe gatheringâ€? But one can then ask how God injects into the online â€œgatheringâ€. God certainly can, and does. But where does that leave the more technically disabled or access-challenged? Are they losing the attention of us who have our â€œcool connectionsâ€? Maybe we get into similar territory when we talk about small church vs mega church. There are parallels there.
It seems tome that the Contemplatives who call us to more â€œcenteredâ€ lives, and to be disciplined in â€œkeeping connectedâ€ in an internal way and with intentional community of others so connected, may be the predecessors of the role of â€œsociological/spiritualâ€ observers that I am calling on the church to highlight/emphasize. The contemplatives give us the message that we may well be losing something intended for humanity in our fast paced world. Where does technology, and in particular, Social Media and Web 2.0 and hyperconnectivity begin to chip away at things which make us most human? And on places where we are intended to commune with God and one another?