As with an online campus, questions of ecclesiology arise with the metaverse, particularly the degree to which physical interaction is necessary for there to truly be “church” or to be a participant in the body of Christ. But we’ve wrestled with such questions before in response to a changing spiritual climate or an advance in technology and eventually determined the use of technology was both theologically acceptable and missionally decisive.
Corrina Laughlin, who teaches media studies at Loyola Marymount University, has studied evangelicals’ use of media and technology. She notes that evangelicals have long been early adopters of new tech, and not just recently. She points out that early in American evangelicalism, preachers like Charles Fuller and Aimee Semple McPherson took full advantage of radio. Billy Graham embraced television for his crusades and even founded a film studio, World Wide Pictures, in 1953. Then came the televangelists of the 1980s and the contemporary Christian musicians of the ’90s.
“In the digital era, evangelicals have continued to embrace media technologies as they have entered the zeitgeist,” she writes, “[using] the technologies of secular culture to spread their own message and values.” In an article for the Atlantic, Laughlin quotes Tom Pounder, the online-campus pastor at New Life Christian Church in Chantilly, Virginia: “Online ministry is here to stay, and the churches that don’t invest in this area won’t be.”
This is the heart behind the upcoming Church & Culture Conference—to help the church embrace a hybrid model that will advance the mission to reach those who are far from Christ.
I hope you’ll join me.
This article originally appeared here and is used by permission.