I am tired of hearing people say that online communities are not real communities. Sick. and. tired. I know many people believe this because they think it is easy to hide our true selves online and put forth a façade of how we want others to perceive us. But here’s the thing, isn’t that a HUMAN NATURE problem? Isn’t it HUMAN NATURE to hide behind the mask we want others to see?
Every person in the universe can hide any aspect of themselves that they want to – at work, at school, at home, and hell, even in Christendom. A person can sit in church every Sunday and make conversation with the person next to her, attend a weekly bible study, and have lots of friends – yet that same person could be abusing her children, or contemplating suicide, or having an affair, or watching porn addictively.
But we put on a good face and show you what we want you to see.
That was the beauty of Mr. and Mrs. Smith (I know – HOMEWRECKER!) – that as long as they were keeping secrets from each other their marriage was lifeless and distant. But as their true identities surfaced they got all hot for each other again. Truth brought intimacy.
I think The Church in general is very far behind the times in terms of technology and the internet. It is ignorant of the blog world and does not take advantage of blog-like formatted websites like this one from The Landing, a new shopping center developing near my home. It is a great example of a corporate website with a blog feel. It doesn’t just provide information – it invites conversation. Churches should embrace this.
I also think The Church is slow to embrace the idea of asynchronous gatherings. Do we have to be in the same room to have meaningful conversations? Absolutely not. My children connect with Bryan in meaningful ways during the weeks he travels because we communicate with our web cams via Sight Speed. Ruthie shows Bryan her art work from the day, Thomas gives him ‘nucks, and they both kiss and hug the computer every evening. Ruthie has even tried to feed Bryan a bite of her dinner through the computer screen.
Using technology has kept our family connected, so we could feasibly also lead a community group through our church using this same technology, allowing Bryan to teach and participate even on the weeks he is traveling. The use of blogs can also assist the creative process amongst the writers and artists of churches, creating a place to post pieces and receive feedback – especially for those who have schedules that make it difficult to attend workshops in person.
Mars Hill is a church in the area that has chosen to accommodate its increasing attendance by creating satellite services with its pastor’s sermons piped in via a live feed on the internet. At first I was offended by this concept because I thought, who are THEY to take over the World? But the more I think about technology and The Church, the more I realize that Mars Hill is embracing technology and using it to share the Gospel. They believe that meaningful conversations can take place asynchronously. And THAT is a concept I can get on board with.
I realize, though, that I may be preaching to the choir. You are reading my blog, which means you not only know what the internet is, but you are connected with what the latest trends are for communicating. So you are likely thinking, yeah, I get it. So maybe this is just a rant. Technology and the internet is not something to be feared. It is a tool. Like money. It can be used for good, or it can be squandered. I just want it to be represented correctly.