This blog is the first in our series entitled “Techno-Sapiens in a Networked Era: Becoming Digital Neighbors,” following the theme of the upcoming 2019 Missiology Lectures (October 30 – November 1). The lectures and this blog series will explore connections between technology, neighboring and the global body of Christ. For more event details, click here.
A Christian physician, Gloria, was commissioned by her faith community (known as “church” in the West) in her home country in Asia, when she was assigned by its government to serve in Africa as part of her medical career advancement process. Gloria longed to worship with her loved ones all those months while she was in a foreign land. She had come to know Christ through this faith community, located near the college she attended, and was discipled along with other medical school students in the university district, where the physical building that houses her community is situated.
Gloria’s discipleship group leader recently sent her an email informing her that one of their weekly celebrations, known in the West as “worship services,” will be broadcast live via WeChat at the beginning of the coming month. She was excited about this unique experience and was keen to invite her colleagues in Africa to meet online with her faith community in Asia.
Telecommuting to a weekly celebration at one’s faith community back home is now a dream come true with the many advanced technological innovations available online.
Gloria’s faith community is not the only one broadcasting its weekly celebrations online. Many others use apps like WeChat to connect with their members or to reach out to those who are interested in finding out more about building a relationship with Jesus. Telecommuting to a weekly celebration at one’s faith community back home is now a dream come true with the many advanced technological innovations available online.
There remain many areas of concern to address as you venture into networking in the cyberworld: What is the best way to follow up with someone who attends your church online? How can you track the progress of small groups who congregate online? How do you introduce your ministry philosophy to your telecommuting church members? Is there more you can do to provide care for your telecommuting church members? What are some common communal drawbacks to prevent?
We might begin to design some innovative means to train seminarians to envision a platform for nurturing cyber communities of faith interculturally.
I believe this new frontier is worthy of our effort to explore as we seek to develop new faith communities, known in the West as “planting new churches.” We might begin to design some innovative means to train seminarians to envision a platform for nurturing cyber communities of faith interculturally. Subjects such as connections and communications in the virtual world need to be investigated, along with concerns on security and privacy in the formulation. Understanding of cultures and societies is essential in preparing these workers for the new frontier, so as to avoid the pitfall of the one-size-fits-all mentality that we have often witnessed over the past decades in the church planting field.
“Virtual communities might be real communities, they might
be pseudo-communities, or they might be something entirely new in the realm of social
contracts, but they are in part a response to the hunger for communities around
the world.” Shall we respond to this hunger?
Peter L. Lim is the Acting Dean of the School of Intercultural Studies and the Headington Assistant Professor of Global Leadership Development
 Joon Koh, Young-Gul Kim & Young-Gul Kim (2003) Sense of Virtual Community: A Conceptual Framework and Empirical Validation, International Journal of Electronic Commerce, 8:2, 75-94, DOI: 10.1080/10864415.2003.11044295.