virtual church

i’m speaking at an SCM national conference on virtual worship this afternoon… a text message just came through to say that the data projector isn’t working, so i’m going unplugged and acoustic. that feels quite nice for a change.

what to say… there’s so much ‘out there’ in the virtual world in terms of worship. i’ve been particularly taken with a scottish virtual church which gives you the opportunity to sing along to “Abide with me” and “The day thou gavest”. There’s the Ship of Fools virtual church, church of fools, and it’s evolving counterpart, St Pixels… Among the ‘sacred space’ sites are rejesus, vurch, the Irish Jesuit daily prayer site, and many others. they’re good.

i find it really interesting that the attempts to create virtual worship – like the Church of Fools, and St Pixels – are still working on a very traditional format of worship. if i don’t want to be part of that off-line, why would i want to be on-line…?
i was reading some writing a friend is doing about worship at the moment. he talks about alternative worship being ‘successful’ when we achieve ‘immediacy’ – i.e. when the ‘medium’ becomes unnoticeable because God has been encountered. i wonder how that can happen in virtual church…

i wonder how to do alternative worship on line… one of the things that distinguishes worship from sacred space, in my mind anyway, is that worship always involves community (i think both are essential, by the way). i might not be doing the same thing as another person, i might not even talk to another person, i certainly won’t be encountering the same things in worship as the people around me… but they add to the worship space simply by reminding me that i am not alone in the world, and that this God i seek to worship is not just my God. that’s something which is at the heart of the christian gospel.

so how do we do alternative worship on line, offering real community, an encounter with God that transcends the medium, holds true to the essence of alternative worship, and offers people an encounter with God that transforms them to live differently in the world…

i think we can (indeed, i think we have to) … i’m not sure i’ve seen it yet…

i wonder if the best place to start it would be with a group of people who already know each other…


  1. i think another interesting question is what is worship? is virtual church actually trying to do the “worship” or the “education” or the connection” part of community, i would hazzard to guess that what’s happening is not necessarilty the traditional understanding of “worship.”

    i virtually worship without my pc all the time, but i cant do the connection stuff or education or growth stuff all the time alone…

    what is virtual church trying to do?

  2. So how did it all go without the DP?

    PresentationZen calls it “presenting naked” : have a read

    My theory with online worship’ish’ness is that things online have to be time-insensitive, so if I have to be somewhere at A certain time, not gonna happen – the fact that we are having this conversation now over a whole bunch of hours works… don’t know how we make that into worship, but it’ll happen.

  3. Cheryl

    going naked was fine. the dp was working by the time i got there, but i only used it minimally to show a couple of websites (gotta love a church that’s online!)

    darren – i think the education / community thing of virtual church happens pretty well already (kind of…! for some people, anyway) – but i’m not sure that the sacred space / worship thing has anywhere near reached its potential. i don’t know, really, i’m just trying to imagine how it might look.

    for some people, going to church is just not an option (hi, lisa!)… the internet provides everything else, we have to work to make it provide this…

  4. Fionnaigh

    I really enjoyed your presentation, and in fact the whole day. Finally got around to blogging it. Lost your business card though.

    Are you by any chance the same Australian into Virtual Church stuff that my friends/bosses Paul Barber and Margaret Mayman from St Andrew’s on the Terrace Wellington met at a Future Church conference in Auckland? Paul and I had coffee today and are very inspired to breathe new life into the St Andy’s website… Yay!

  5. Cheryl

    hi fionnaigh,

    i was at the future church conference. I wasn’t so much into virtual church then, more alternative worship. I think i remember paul and margaret… looking forward to seeing the website!

    nice to meet you last week…

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