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CHURCH COMMUNITY AND THE WORLD WIDE WEB

 

 

 

 

  

CHURCH COMMUNITY AND THE WORLD WIDE WEB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BY

 

CHRISTOPHER A. PRIEBE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

APRIL 2004


 

 

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

When I think of community in the Church I immediately think of a small church I pastored in Kamloops British Columbia.  Although we had our faults we did one thing really well – food.  Eating was such a regular occurrence at our church that on our twentieth anniversary someone stood up and said, “This church is built on the blood of Jesus Christ and pot-luck suppers.”   On the surface some people think of a church as a building and a community as people in the same space together.  The problem with that line of thought is when the building burns down the church goes on.   As to community, I have felt more detached standing in a crowd of a hundred people than when I have traveled to the other side of the world and met a fellow Christian for the first time.  The Church is the people[1] and the community is the bond they share.

Supper (or more specifically -- eating together), has traditionally been the image of fellowship.  Communion is what the church has come to call the last supper of our Lord where He combined the image of His blood and the common act of partaking in the cup.  His words echo till today, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (1 Cor 11:25)  The supper has been transformed.  It is no longer a simple fellowship of friends but a communion around a common Savior.

I have however only begun to unravel what community means.  Space will not permit me to develop every aspect of community but I hope to highlight a few of its primary faces in the Church.  In the end I really want to develop an area of much needed and little developed research on how the Internet can help draw out those faces of the Church.  As well, I desire to leave an early record concerning the internet and community for others to add to as this new world emerges.  The nature of this paper is synthetic for I hope to bring together the most relevant Biblical data and apply it to a new field of study and practice.

 

WHAT IS COMMUNITY?

Biblical community begins with God.  He is the source of community and the highest expression of its greatest attribute – “Oneness”[2].  Thus when the Bible begins it starts with these words, “In the beginning God….”, for in the beginning that was all that there was, just God. However we should not think that God was alone; instead, God was there as the Spirit hovering over the waters, as the Father speaking creation into being, and as the Son who is the Word spoken (Jn 1:1).  When the perfect community created it only makes sense that He created a community.[3]  At first it was the universe with all its stars and moons held in precise unity.  Then came all the animals of the Earth held in perfect balance.  And when everything else was done God made man in God’s own image – which includes community.  Yet it was not good for man to be alone.  So God reached deep into the man and pulled out the other half of the image from close to his heart and the two were called “one” (Gen 2:24) even as God Himself is called “one” (Deut 6:4). 

However the dream of God to see community in humankind was broken when the members of the community broke union with the “One” and decided to do their own thing (Gen 3).  And now discord taints all of creation with not only weeds corrupting the harmony of nature but also death bringing an end to the richness of fellowship.  Weddings now sadly end in funerals and the hearts that live are ruled with dominance instead of unity. (Gen 3:16) 

Still the dream of God lives on and He has plans to restore community to its rightful place.  So as history played itself out under His hand God established His covenant with Abraham and years later draws out His people from Egypt.  Then when the time was right God established a new covenant in His blood and drew out the Church, and is preparing her for the wedding supper of the lamb.

To be a community is to hold something in common, in fact, it is to have a “common-unity”.  When a community reaches its deeper levels it can appropriately be called “one”.  For some people community is that they live in the same neighborhood or they meet in the same hall.  For others they are bound to a common purpose like a fan club or an activist group.  For the Church however the tie goes beyond such fragile connections and goes straight to the soul – eternally binding one to the other.  That thing the Church shares is not a building or a meeting or even a common mission, it is the commonality of having been “lost but now I am found, blind but now I see.”  (Jn 9:25) Together Christians have drunk from one common cup which is the precious blood of Christ and now sit at one common table as equals.  Here the last is now first and the first is now last (Mt 19:30;20:16;Mk 9:35;10:31;Lk 13:30) and there is no longer male or female, slave or freeman (Gal 3:28).   Because of this unity when Christians travel to the other side of the world they do not see African or Asian, rich or poor but simply “child of God” and “child of God”, their brother, their sister, with whom they dine eternally.

Not only are Christians united by the shared experience of salvation but they are bound by the one Spirit who dwells within each of their beings.  Jesus prayed for such unity by asking “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.  May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (Jn 17:21)  The Trinity is One because the Father is in the Son and the Son is in the Father[4], they are united.  Likewise Christians are united because the Spirit is in each of them and they are therefore “one”.  Thus, Christian have koinonia which is fellowship, or more specially, a holding of all things in common.  “All the believers were together and had everything in common.  Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.”  (Acts 2:45)  When people move beyond abstract concepts into concrete actions this is what Biblical community looks like, the people were one, “and the two shall become one flesh”.   The context of that passage is marriage and I have been reflecting a lot on it as I prepare for my wedding.  When I marry my beautiful fiancé my accounts become hers and my body belongs to her, it is no longer just my own. Likewise the Church has become one body (1 Cor 12) and each member lays down his or her own life daily (Gal 2:20; Lk 9:23).  This image of laying down one’s life is seen in the image of the towel where at the same meal we celebrate for communion Jesus washed their feet.  From this towel image Jesus shows that communion is not about putting one’s own needs first but to become the servant of all (Jn 13:14,15; Phil 2:1-11)  The saying, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” (Jn 13:15) takes on new meaning beside His words at the same meal, “this is my body which is broken for you” (1 Cor 12:24 NKJV) and the response, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me.” (Gal 2:20)

The Christian life is one where we have died and renounced all rights to ourselves and now pick up our cross daily to live for the benefit of our brother and sister.  “Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (Jn 15:12,13) and “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers.” (Jn 3:14)  In our minds it is no longer “my body” but “our body” (1 Cor 12)  Indeed, we are called to be “One”.

 

OBSTACLES FACING THE LOCAL CONTEXT OF THE CHURCH

The struggle is that some people do not feel at home in the Church.  If I compared Church to a dinner they would feel like they were the ones sitting in the corner.  If I compared Church to a family they would say it is dysfunctional.  In fact, dysfunctional is an appropriate term in today’s culture.  Gone are the days where families played in the front yard and all the neighbors waved.  People live in large apartment complexes and suburbs and stare blankly at each other when they have to remember their neighbor’s name.  Doors are locked and alarms are set before heading out on the half hour commute to work, driving away from the place that was once called “home”.  Between hockey practices and piano recitals many complain there just is not enough time.  Then finally when we get to know a few people we move cities to get that better job and the bigger house so both parents can work harder to pay for it.  Not to mention the divorce rate which is at a devastating 50%.  I am not sure it is even possible to return to those days[5]  and, in the end, society is growing with a deeper longing to find a place to belong.  After all, “It is not good for man to be alone.” (Gen. 2:18)

Sadly, our churches look quite similar.  Single moms strain to get their children dressed and in the car.  They hurry through their Sunday school notes as they drive to their class they teach.  The children squirm in church as they stare at the back of people’s heads.  Church finally ends and everyone files into a crowded foyer to get a Styrofoam cup of coffee to go.  That lady who always sits in the third row from the front, ask her how it is going and of course she answers all is fine even though there is no money to fix the car.  The kids are starting to fuss and she heads on her way as the muffler drags itself over the curb.

Enough people begin to complain that the church is not that friendly so the church has a meeting and decides to start small groups.  Our single mom gets a baby sitter and finds her way to the Kent’s house.  She is nervous at first but after a few weeks she knows some names and she is starting to have a friend in Sally.  By the fifth week her muffler is so loud that the group can hear her from Penner Street.  Jim and Bill come over to her place on Saturday and fix her muffler while Sally takes the kids to the park.  A family is being formed and they even eat together at the church BBQ.  The problem is that when they get together no one talks, that is, no one but Bill.  Bill is the leader and every week it is the same thing: he reads some verses from Scripture, asks a question and everyone stares at him.  Finally he answers his own questions and they close in prayer.  A community has started but it is a community that only connects once a week, leaving six days in which the “community” has no connection. 

 

THE ROLE OF THE INTERNET

It is here that the Internet becomes very useful by keeping people connected when distance makes that impossible.  In some ways this is like what the apostle Paul did when he traveled all around the Mediterranean.  He would plant a Church in Corinth or Ephesus, stay there for a while and then he would move on to the next city.  How did he stay connected?  From time to time he would meet someone from those towns and hear news through them.  At other times he would write letters and send them back with those people. This is how we got most of the letters in the Bible.  Of course this was no replacement for the fellowship they had in the upper room pouring over the Scripture and breaking bread but it was a way of supplementing community while he was gone.  Likewise the Internet does not replace the actual act of meeting together[6] but it can supplement it.

The Church has a long precedent of using technology to advance its cause.  In the first century missionaries like Paul used the Roman roads to bring the critical message of Christ to the people.[7] Later the Church used the printing press to get the Bible into the hands of the common people.  Recently churches have embraced the modern sound system, which allows them to project even the smallest voice to thousands of members.  Like the above the Internet is another tool the Church can use.   

The first power of the Internet is summarized in the difference between atoms and bits.[8]  Atoms are physical and symbolize the way we are used to doing things.  If a church wants to hand out Bibles they have to have them printed on real paper with real ink.  They are then bound forever in atoms (matter) and are given away.  The atoms however can only be in one place at one time.  When the preacher preaches he has to preach to a real audience that is there.  If someone shows up late everyone is gone and the lights are turned off.  Bits however are not so demanding because they do not take up much space.[9]  If I want to give someone a Bible or preach a sermon I just put a copy of it online, then anyone in the entire world can access it any time they want and in any way they want, they are not bound to the rules like you have to show up with your physical body in this physical place at this tangible time or else you miss it.  Likewise with community we are used to getting into our physical cars and driving to a physical coffee shop so we can do something that is not physical at all but rather an emotional and spiritual connection.  Some would argue that the physical creates the right atmosphere (that is as long as the coffee shop is not too noisy or hot or smelly and you want to talk about something that does not involve a lot of writing).  What if an atmosphere could be created with bits that could also create an emotional and spiritual connection?[10]  If that was the case then we are no longer bound to the physical (except for the need for a conduit like a computer) and can deepen our relationships at any time and at any place, even if the other person is unavailable or on the other side of the world.  Since it is only bits I can archive the atmosphere so others can come along and experience it over and over again later on.  Some examples of this are discussion boards, blogs (online journals), emails and chat logs of celebrities guests.

The second major advantage of the Internet is summarized in the concept of a hyperlink (which is like a footnote except it actually takes the reader to the other resource).[11]  A hyperlink is simply a little anchor tag <a href> stuck into a web page that joins the page I am reading to another page that the author thinks might be useful.  In the old method of writing if I wanted to write a book then I would start in chapter one and work my way through to chapter ten.  Only a few people would write books and everything I wrote was mine.  Since books were written only by the experts the average person did not have a voice.  When the Internet became public the most popular thing was for people to write their own little web pages.  The most amazing thing was that my web page did not have to be complete or perfect.  It was just one small piece loosely joined to a world of other pages.  I now had a voice and with the onset of “Content Management Systems” the average person is even more empowered because all they have to do is fill in a form and press enter and their voice is available to the world.  This has become so popular that 44%[12] of Internet users[13]  have published their own content online.

If the above principle is applied to the Church we now have the ability for mass global collaboration as the Body of Christ.  If the Church were to hold its knowledge in common (belonging to the community) [14] instead of as personal intellectual property then it could develop resources like never before.  As an example, http://www.wikipedia.org was created in January 2001 and now has almost a quarter of a million encyclopedia articles in English and over 350,000 articles in other languages.  Each article was built by one person supplying the initial content.  Thereafter anyone in the world can just press edit on the page and make minor changes.  Although such openness has the danger of vandalism it is quickly corrected by a massive community that feels ownership of the project and self-moderates it.   As I begin development on a new resource called http://www.wikibible.com Christians from all around the world will be able to build a giant online Bible Encyclopedia, Commentary, Topical Concordance, and Illustration database.  In the academic world technology is now coming available where groups of professors can get together to write modules for courses.  Other professors can then build their online course by interspersing their own notes with their choice of favorite case studies, videos, and other shared content syndicated from a common location (to which of course they can add their contributions).[15]  In the future care group materials like “Purpose Driven Life” can have a web supplement where pastors and leaders can upload sermons, Sunday School lessons, illustrations, images, youth events, etc. that all help to build a collection of resources.  Then when a Church does a series as a community all the departments of the Church can focus on the same topic and give back their own advances to the project.

The third enhancement that the internet offers is a surprising principle found by Woolgar which states, “The more virtual the more real.”[16]   What Woolgar found was that the more people used the Internet the more real activity corresponded with it. For instance, as email increased so did international travel since people were making broader contacts.  Likewise when football games were televised attendance went up in the actual games.[17]  Finally, when someone in the office would write an email then see the other person by the water cooler they would talk about it.  Instead of just having one mode of communication they now have at least two modes (both of which are different but both build community in their own way).  Applied to the Church this means that people do not only see the backs of each others heads on Sunday morning and the passing handshakes by the coffee urns.  Now they can go online and read about the spiritual discoveries, births of grandchildren, sorrows and joys of the friends they are making through their online blogs (web-journals).  They can scroll through a list of photos and find that person they met in passing and figure out what his or her name really was.    The youth can download pictures of the latest concert they went to and the worship band can share their latest songs they created for others to download and play in their car (copyrights allowing of course).  Care groups and Sunday School classes can collaborate on writing this week’s lessons and everyone can download this week’s sermon and post questions and insights that God has put on their hearts.  If someone is sick the prayer team can be alerted by email and begin to write out their prayers (who says they have to be spoken?) and then send electronic cards to the sick.  New people to town can read the history of the church, its purpose and get to know some of the members before they even arrive.  Of course this needs to be protected by a password and policies need to be in place for moderation.[18]  In the end however more “virtual” community will result in a more physical community since people now have more to talk about when they meet each other.  This, in and of itself, is a great icebreaker.  It is not that the Internet replaces other tools for community (like coffee shops, phone calls, Christmas letters and shared experiences) but it adds another form.  Each form is different and adds a new dimension making the entire community experience more full and complete.

 

NEW CHALLENGES THE INTERNET CREATES

The Internet however will not solve all of a church’s problems with community.  People will still be too busy to socialize and like other forms of community building (like standing up in Church and introducing one’s guests) some people will like it and others hate it before they even try it. Moreover if a church has cranky parishers that do not get along before you give them a web page, they will be just as cranky when they go online.  The only thing that has changed is the tool they use to express their God-given and man tainted personality.  Finally, despite how busy the Church leaders are it is not a solution they can just take out of a box and let it run on its own.  Like the “Church Growth Movement” it is not a one-size fits all solution, each church needs to tweak the basic tools of the Internet to fit its own culture.

The first danger for a church starting out in supplementing their physical community with an online community is to only build an online pamphlet that simply tells about the church instead of engaging the people in taking part of the church.  The practical workings of Biblical community are shown in Acts 2:42, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.  Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles.  All the believers were together and held everything in common.”   Many Christian web pages stop at the first point – they devote themselves to the apostle’s teaching.  If one went to the church page it will have a bunch of information; things like, “How did the church begin”, “What does the church believe” and then a list of sermons and Bible studies.  These are great but they are all top down, the organization pushing content to its people. It is beneficial to put the church’s hours of service, pastor bios, and upcoming events but if that is all the church is doing it would be like every time the church meets someone they spend all their time giving announcements to that person.  True relationships allow two-way conversations.

Acts 2:42 states they also devoted themselves to fellowship.  “Organic” is a good word to describe this in the Internet world.  This means that the site builds itself and grows from the ground up – based on the efforts of the whole and not just the leaders.  When we built our community site for Trinity Western University we decided to try out this “organic” model.  We started by creating the basic framework much like someone would lay out a garden (add content to these kinds of topics), then we planted the seeds by letting the students come in.  When they came we found out that the most popular activities they did were to look for old friends and upload pictures (perhaps because it is so easy to do).  Within a month we had over 1,000 pictures uploaded and a large collection of testimonies from friends who were re-united.  Students began to move the boundaries we had set by asking for new discussion rooms on topics like politics and book reviews.  They created communities on photography and collaborative research space and then began to design elements like a graphical world map that shows where alumni have gone.  It is there in community where they supplement their fellowship and enjoy each others acceptance around the common broken bread of Christ’s salvation.  This is now moving the church closer to the Biblical model of oneness where each member has an equal voice and all the members work together in the digital “commons”.

 The Acts passage moves on to speak about prayer and miracles.   These two can be summarized by the word “ministry” both inwards and outwards.   I once read that society has tried to resolve the lack of community by creating small groups only to find out that people are coming there simply to talk about themselves in the midst of a group.  The same danger can be true for a web site.  It is now possible to let people journal their thoughts away online but still never connect to others.  This is what I really like about the FOAF (Friend of a Friend) strategy.  The basic idea is that I create a profile that tells about me and save it as a web page with special tags <firstname>Chris</firstname>.  When I join a club or go to a conference I give them the web address to that file.  The conference then reads that file and adds me to their records.  In addition my file also tells them what my hobbies are and who some of my friends are.  When another member reads my profile they can click on any of my hobbies and see everyone else who is interested in that hobby.  Moreover through some advanced tools they can map out which of my friends know his or her friends and all the people we have in common through those friends.   When we bring this solution to the problem of people thinking only about themselves we can create a “hyperlink” (see above) on all of their hobbies, keywords, etc to a list of everyone else interested in the same thing.  When they click on that hyperlink they now enter a community site all about that shared interest where they can discuss their shared passion.  Furthermore, by making some of that content available to the world[19]  they can powerfully share their testimony or provide a “bridge” to Christ on a portal of those with shared interest.[20]

The second danger is directly related to the first.  If the church allows it’s people to write anything they want on the church web site it runs to risk of allowing the content to misrepresent the church.  This was the biggest concern that we had to address when we started building our University’s community site (what if the students say something that puts us in a legal battle?)  In response to this concern, it is important that the church controls the front most page of the site (which happens to be the page that the world sees).   This responsibility can be handed down to a list of trusted people who have proven themselves faithful After the login screen people can have greater freedom and a disclaimer should be placed on the page that the views on the following pages do not necessarily reflect the views of the entire church.  Overuse of freedom is not a new problem; Paul had to address its expression in community with the churches he worked with too.  When answering the Corinthian church’s question about eating food sacrificed to idols Paul stressed the point that they are free now in Christ to eat it but if someone is weak in their faith then the other members should not flaunt their right and cause that brother to stumble.  It would be better for them to simply abstain from using their freedom. (1 Cor 8)  Likewise on the Internet some people may be free (or at least feel free) to write content that might harm those weaker in the faith.   For instance, I once had a student upload a picture of himself not fully clad playing a guitar.  My swear filter caught the submission and notified me right away.  I then emailed the student and lovingly reminded him of the theology of the weaker brother and exhorted him in Christian love to not to cause his weaker “brother” to stumble. Of course he responded with openness.  If however he had not listened then I would have had to follow the Biblical example of confrontation and restoration outlined in Matthew 18:15-19.  If the offender still did not listen then I would have had to remove him from the community (which is as simple as pressing ‘ban’ or ‘delete’) until he repented.

The third issue is the problem of Internet addiction and alienation.  It is possible for some people to replace their other modes of community with this one mode and spend all their time in front of a computer. [21]  Healthy relationships require multiple avenues of communication.  The opposite of addiction is alienation where some members will not have access to use the Internet due to financial or educational barriers or a lack of interest[22].  It is important then for the Church to offer multiple avenues of community to both of these members to broaden their experience and to encourage the members of the community to mentor each other in complete relationships.

 

CONCLUSION

When Graham Bell invented the telephone he was convinced that its primary purpose would simply be to deliver news reports and symphonies to the people.  Only after being confronted with undeniable evidence was he convinced that the primary purpose of the telephone was to allow people to communicate.[23]  In a similar fashion some people believe that the primary purpose of the Church is to deliver sermons and deliver a message to a people.  In so doing they have forgotten that the message is embodied in a people and that it is people that God came to save and unite into the glorious bride of Christ prepared for the wedding supper of the lamb.  Eating together is the Biblical image of community and it is seen in Communion where we are bound together by the common experience of the blood of Christ and the common Spirit who sends us into united ministry.  Like the telephone, the Internet is designed to do more than simply deliver news and push content to the people; rather, the Internet provides a place of “commons” for the Church to relate and thus move in beyond one day a week.  It is not intended to stand alone as the only form of community but as a supplement to add to what already exists.  With nearly 66% (about 82 million)[24] of American Internet users the Internet for faith related issues it is apparent that the Internet is being used for far more than just displaying news.  People are longing for community and God is restoring community through the Church.  I have sought to offer some suggestions as to how the Biblical model of community can be worked out in the Church online and I now offer this paper back to the Church to build upon.


 

 

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bilezikian, Gilbert. Community 101: Reclaiming the Local Church as Community of Oneness. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1997.

 

Careaga, Andrew. eMinistry: Connecting with the Net Generation. Grand Rapids, Kregel, 2001.

 

Chenault, Brittney, “Developing Personal and Emotional Relationships Via Computer – Mediated Communication”, May 1998. http://www.december.com/cmc/mag/ 1998/may/chenault.html

 

Erickson, Millard. Christian Theology. Second Edition: Baker, 1998.

 

Everett, Ferguson. The Church of Christ: A Biblical Ecclesiology for Today. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996.

 

Frazee, Randy, The Connecting Church: Beyond Small Groups to Authentic Community. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001.

 

Gaillardetz, Richard R. Transforming our Days: Spirituality, Community and Liturgy in a Technological Culture. New York: A Crossroads Books, 2000.

 

Gibbs, Eddie. ChurchNext: Quantum Changes in How We Do Ministry. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000.

 

Hagel, John III and Arthur G. Armstrong. Net.gain: Expanding Markets Through Virtual Communities. Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard Business School Press, 1997.

 

Internet Evagelism Coalition. http://groups.yahoo.com/group/IECGlobalForum/ (Restricted Membership, invitation required)

 

LaRue, John Jr. “The Internet: Blessing or Curse for Pastors.” Your Church. (Mar/Apr 2001),  http://www.christianitytoday.com/yc/2001/002/18.88.html.

 

Pew Internet and American Life Project. http://www.pewinternet.org/

 

Priebe, Chris and Philip Laird. “Universities as Lifelong Learning Communities.” In Web Based Communities 2004: Proceedings of the International Association for the Development of Information Society Held in Lisbon, Portugal 24-26 March 2004.

 

Rheingold, Howard. Smart Mobs the Next Social Revolution: Transforming Cultures and Communities in the age of Instant Access. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books Group, 2002.

 

Weinberger, David. Small Pieces Loosely Joined. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books Group, 2002.

 

Whitaker, Tony. “Web Evangelism Toolbox” http://www.evangelism.uk.net/web_evangelism.htm.

 

Wilson, Walter, The Internet Church: the local church can’t be just local any more. Nashville: Word Publishing, 2000.

 

Woolgar, Steve ed. Virtual Society? Technology, Cyberbole, Reality. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002.

 

Zizioulas, John D. Being as Communion. Crestwood, NY: ST Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1993.

 


 

[1] Specifically the people of God who share the same salvation from Jesus and empowerment to mission by the Spirit.

[2] “Oneness” is a key theological theme that I will develop more when I talk about the family and the Prayer of Jesus for the Church to be one.

[3] For a detailed analysis of the Trinity as the source of community and how it relates to the Eucharist see John D Zizioulas, Being as Communion (Crestwood, NY: ST Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1993) whose argument is essentially we are because we relate instead of  “I think therefore I am”.  He deals primarily with how God’s ontology is because He relates to Himself and then moves to how we find our existence because we relate to God.

[4] Traditionally the Father is distinct because He is that which begets the Son, and the Son is distinct because He is that which is begotten and the Spirit is distinct because He is that which is sent (and according to some is the love that binds the Father and the Son).  Thus whenever we speak of God doing something (creation, salvation, baptism of Jesus, etc) we speak of Him acting as three.  However whenever we speak of God in His transcendence we speak of Him as One for they share the same nature. 

[5] However, it may still be possible.  See Randy Frazee  The Connecting Church: Beyond Small Groups to Authentic Community (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2001).

 

 

[7] These roads were built by the military to quickly disperse troops.  Likewise the Internet was built by the military and is called the “Information Highway” and opens up new ways to rapidly bring the message to the people.   

[8] For further reading on this topic see Walter Wilson , The Internet Church: the local church can’t be just local any more (Nashville: Word Publishing, 2000), 19.  He credits Nicholas Negroponte, director of MIT Media Lab for this idea out a conversation in the 1980s.

[9] Technically bits are a just a bunch of on and off switches represented by 0’s and 1’s.Eight bits form a byte and 2 bytes is enough variations to form a character of the alphabet.  This paper will likely be just over 100,000 bytes which can be transferred over a phone line in 15 seconds or a fraction of a second with new high speed connections.  When placed on the web millions of people can view this file a day and share it with their friends.  Instantly the file is available all over the world.  Now imagine doing that with a traditional lecture and a photocopier.

[10] Most would argue that it would not be the same and they are right but that is okay because I am not  trying to make something the same.  Last I will argue that we need several different tools to do relationship, every tool adding a new element, for instance borderlessness.

[11] This thought is well developed in David Weinberger, Small Pieces Loosely Joined (Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books Group, 2002)

[12] 21% posting photographs, 17% written material, 13% maintain their own web site, 10% posted to newsgroups.  http://www.pewinternet.org/reports/reports.asp?Report=113&Section=ReportLevel1&Field=Level1ID&ID=484  Survey taken Feb 29, 2004 (I am not sure this number fully reflects the global sphere and how internet café would alter this stat)

[13] Globally there are nearly 1 billion people online although Pew Internet research usually only applies to the US.  http://www.clickz.com/stats/big_picture/geographics/article.php/5911_151151

[14] Example. http://creativecommons.org/  , http://www.opensource.org/ , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Text_of_the_GNU_Free_Documentation_License, http://wwws.sun.com/software/communitysource/  and the recent announcement that MIT will be releasing all of it’s courses materials online at no cost. http://www.degree.net/news/mit.html

[15] Kwok-Bun Yue et al. “A Model for Open Content Communities to Support Effective Learning and Teaching” in Web Based Communities 2004: Proceedings of the International Association for the Development of Information Society, ed. Piet Kommers et al (Lisbon, Portugal 24-26 March 2004), 533-536. (see http://cnx.rice.edu/ for an example)

[16] Steve Woolgar, ed, Virtual Society? Technology, Cyberbole, Reality  (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), 16. The word virtual however is very unfortunate because it comes out of the earlier days when people thought that the Internet was not real.  It is appropriate to call 3d computer worlds “Virtual Reality” since they are only simulations but it is inappropriate to call someone a “Virtual Friend” This point is significant since internet community has a bad reputation of being written off as unreal.  The friends made over the Internet are just as real as the ones made in person and the connection between them is just as real as having coffee or chatting on the phone.

[17]  Woolgar, 18.

[18] Every post should be checked for offensive words to be sent to a team of moderators who give a quick once over if in question.  Ideally moderators should approve all new members of the community before they gain access but many Churches find this too much work.  Finally the community has to have a way of reporting bad content such as a “report bad content” button or a ranking system that eventually makes poor content or behavior unrewarding due to lack of reputation and influence.

[19] The information can be put on the front page, or more powerfully be sent via XML (Extensible Markup Language) as an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) to a larger community portal devoted to that concept.

[20] See http://www.powertochange.com for an example of testimonies.  See http://www.evangelism.uk.net/web_evangelism.htm#4 for a detailed explanation of the bridge strategy.

[21] For instance, my brother wrote the first graphical flash chat where people can walk around as Penguins and talk to others from around the world.  http://www.rocketsnail.com/ He was disturbed to find that a small number of users would spend 10-30 hours straights in this simple environment.

[22] Technically this is called “The Digital Divide”

[23] John III Hagel and Arthur G. Armstrong, Net.gain: Expanding Markets Through Virtual Communities (Boston, Massachusetts: Harvard Business School Press, 1997), 3.

[24] Pew Internet and Church Report http://www.pewinternet.org/reports/toc.asp?Report=119 Published April 7, 2004.

 

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