Seminary Survey

7 comments | Posted: 6 December 05 in General, by Nathan Smith

Recently Shawn Anthony, a fellow member of the 9rules Network, posted some very thought-provoking questions on our theology section of the discussion forum. He is doing some research for a paper he is writing, about Christian perceptions and opinions about how the Church as a whole could or should better use the web. In his own words:

Basically I’m trying to make a case for the Internet’s potential as an Urban Church Network that could be implemented and used with great benefit by Church/Religion, if only it was utilized properly. I feel as though Church/Religion is missing an extremely rich opportunity by ignoring the Internet and web technology.

If you have a few minutes to spare, please do drop in and share your thoughts on what we as the body of Christ can be doing to better utilize the Internet to reach people for the Lord. You can read my responses, and add your own here:

Discuss This Topic

  1. 1 Yannick

    Interesting idea for a research paper. I will take a look and try and answer as soon as I can.

  2. 2 Caleb

    Yes, the internet has it’s place in communicating the gospel. Churches need web sites, so do conferences and mission organizations, etc. It is also good to provide content to Christians, such as sermons, e-books, etc.

    I think it falls short when it comes to using it as an evangelism tool. That is the job of THE CHURCH. We are to be the ones sharing the gospel and communicating the message to non-believers. Neither should it be used AS CHURCH.

    It would be great to see more pastors provide sermons online with no charge, heck more online in general. I think it has a good place in Christian education, but definitely not as a means to sharing the gospel. Although as a starting point I could see it servinc some purpose.

  3. 3 Miles Kruse

    I too think the intersection of technology and the Church is perhaps overrated. Technology is a method, and from my reading of Scripture I do not see that God is interested so much in Methods as in Men (generic anthropos sense of man). The internet is no more a substitute for the Church than are books and magazines.

    As Celeb says, the internet is also not a good medium for evangelism, or even of debate in general, due to its ill-defined audience.

  4. 4 Nathan Smith

    Miles: Well spoken. I don’t think it’d be worth having technology at all, unless it served as an extension of a church’s goals and vision to reach people. A church website in and of itself is value-less, without any personal touch in the congregation itself. If all we’re doing is throwing out 1’s and 0’s, then we’re just wasting our time, and being as Paul said, “a clanging cymbal.”

  5. 5 Robert

    The printing press is a method and books are a byproduct of it. With it, it has given each of us the ability to own and read the Bible, God’s written word.

    There are places in the world where Bibles are outlawed, where people who have access to the internet don’t have access to a physical Bible or Pastors trained to preach the Word of God.

    Yet, with the internet and the Churches usage of it, those people who find themselves in such a position stand to benefit from this method.

    Gifts of the Spirit are also methods to which each of us can Glorify God and point others to our Lord and Savior.

    The point shouldn’t be that a Church web site is to replace the physical Church, but rather the web site is to enhance the Church and be a form of reaching out to those who are lost.

  6. 6 Scott Lenger

    In response to the previous posts, I agree that the church MUST be about people. But where I think the church has erred is in its understanding of people as ‘individual’ rather than ‘community’.

    The majority of church based websites I’ve seen market to the ‘individual’ as a consumer. Snazzy flash interfaces, video clips of the service, online bookstores, and my personal favorite, the top ten list of why this church is different (and therefore better) than other churches. While this has proved successful in terms of the seeker sensitive goal of making church welcoming, I believe it also perpetuates individuality by limiting church to product and viewing the individual as a consumer of goods.

    A more theologically appropriate use of the web would focus on ‘community’ as relational. For instance, in addition to posting the sermon notes, or an mp3, follow up with the sermon by creating a blog to generate feedback and discussion. Instead of a prayer request submission form, integrate this in a discussion forum to allow viewers participation in the act of praying and to share in the resolution. Before sending out the weekly email update, add a web survey related to a particular church/theological topic and use the results in an upcoming message. In this way, you’re using the web to bring individuals together, providing a means for dispersing knowledge and sharing life stories, and helping members, and hopefully outsiders, build connections.

    Thus the real benefit of the web, and the part most overlooked by churches, is the ability to connect people. (this is also how the web differs from printed material). If you really take a look at the various programs in a church you’ll see that one of their primary functions is to build relationships. The web has already proved itself to be an excellent device at building relationships, particularly because it can do so independently of time and location. Can/should the web be pursued as a means of replacing the B&M church? “By no means!” Should the church be present on the web as a tool to build the community? Absolutely!

  7. 7 Nathan Smith

    Scott: I couldn’t agree more. When at my old church, I approached the pastor and asked his permission to let me do a website for them. I did it for free, because at this church I felt particularly welcomed into the community. With that aspect of Christianity in mind, that no man is an island, I set out to design the site. I’m happy to say even though my wive and I no longer live there, the church website is still going strong, with newly added sermon MP3’s…

    The Rock / La Roca UMC

    I passed the baton, so to speak, to a friend who is another web-savvy seminary student. Since then, he has not only kept the site going, but improved upon its functionality. I had a pastor tell me once, “There is no success without a successor.” This is especially true for church webpages. If your church site dies off when your techie youth goes off to college, it’s tough to get it going again.


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