I've seen a number of stories on the increasing popularity of e-worship. Church websites, live streaming services, podcast preaching and iPad apps have revolutionized the way people fellowship and learn. But is it the best way? Albert Mohler is cautious:
"... There is something good, healthy, and Great Commission-minded about the eager use of new communication technologies. Digital technologies and social media have transformed our world, redefining how human beings engage one another and how we all access information. A church without a digital presence is a church that, to many people, simply doesn’t exist.Read the rest here. What do you think?
I am very thankful for the ability to access massive sermon libraries in audio or video form from preachers of the past and from pulpit titans of the present as well. Go online and you can read the sermons of Charles Spurgeon, Martin Luther, and a host of others. Preachers in churches of any size can establish a global reach for their ministry. Digital technologies allow the collapse of distance and time and these platforms also allow the Gospel to jump geographical and political barriers.
For all this we should be thankful. I eagerly use online Bible programs and do research through digital media. I am thankful for the platforms for ministry and communication represented by social media. I am grateful for these new tools and technologies and I make use of them to reach people around the world.
At the same time, there are dangers. John Mark Reynolds of Biola University is cited within the article, and he addressed the danger inherent in these technologies: “How can the Christian church utilize the tools media has given us without being subsumed by them? You don’t want delivery to become everything.”
That is a crucial issue. But the challenge should not be addressed only to churches. Research indicates that a significant number of Christians are tempted to allow these technologies to serve as a substitute for participation in a local church. This is deadly and dangerous for believers.
Christ clearly intends for his people to be gathered together into congregations. The fellowship of the saints is a vital means of grace for the disciple of Christ. We can be enriched by means of listening to sermons online and by delving deeply into the ocean of knowledge found within Christian websites, but these cannot replace the authenticity that comes only by means of the local church and its ministry.
Believers need the accountability found only within the local church. We need to hear sermons preached by flesh-and-blood preachers in the real-time experience of Christian worship. We need to confess the faith together through the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. We need to confess our sins and declare forgiveness by the blood of Christ together. We need to be deployed for service in Christ’s name together."
Want to know more? Try these links:
The Digital-Church Manifesto
A New Church Rising- The Digital Church
Your Church: Is There An App For That?
Do Churches Really Need Their Own iPhone Apps?
Or watch this segment on Religion & Social Media from PBS' "Religion & Ethics Newsweekly":