Imagine watching a streamed weekly church service, attending bible study in a chat room, getting your one on one prayer through instant messaging, or accepting Christ as your savior with the click of a mouse. People have moved to banking online, dating online, and today, a growing number of pastors are ministering to a virtual congregation.
On the website of the Seacoast Church which is based in Columbia, South Carolina, members have the option to download the weekend sermon through an RSS Podcast, or Itunes. Members are encouraged to send email request if in need of prayer, and to find out the best way to grow spiritually, they can visit a link to take an online Spiritual Health Assessment.
More and more pastors feel it is their religious duty to stay abreast on modern technology to both reach the spiritually lost and stay relevant to ever-changing generations. On the other hand, many critics argue that the true Christian experience is rooted in fellowship and can only be maintained through person-to-person contact. Jeremy Strong, 19, a criminal justice major from Miami, Florida agrees.
“It sounds like microwave Christianity. Moses walked 40 days in the dessert. I’m sure people can get up and make it to their church five blocks down the street.”
Maya Downey, 21, a political science major from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida said she was raised in a traditional church, but believes not everyone’s experience will be the same.
“Different things for different people. I wouldn’t go to church on the web, but if that’s how you have to get the word then so be it.”
The Seacoast Church have weekend worship experiences as well as fellowship opportunities though bible study sessions in satellite locations. According to its website, a conscious decision was made to approach the Seacoast Church in an unconditional way in order to attract and “…encourage non-believers to investigate Christianity at their own pace, free from traditional trappings of religion that tend to turn them away.”