Yesterday, I sat in the church's chapel listening to a pair of brilliant, creative women offer up their latest Big Idea from God. The internet as a mission field. Specifically, Facebook as a mission field. Electronic communication via text, instant message, e-mail, and social networking is the first language of the generation following my own into adulthood. That's what makes the internet a mission field, and it's why these ladies are building a team to plant a church right smack dab in the middle of this new frontier.
Our church already streams live feeds of the weekly service over the internet, and I have on occasion sent messages asking friends to take a peep after something particularly relevant to them came across as part of a message. Examples of ways in which the streaming services have been used include one woman visiting out of state family who shared the service with her hosts on a computer at the kitchen table, a college-aged daughter who had yet to find a church logging on weekly, and by those otherwise unable to make it to the bricks-and-mortar building for a variety of reasons from illness to inclement weather. This is not what is meant by, "Internet Campus".
Radio, television, and even video streaming live services are all a passive experience. These types of media have been derided as the ultimate consumer, pew-sitting opportunity because there is no interaction. The proposed internet campus will be active, and teams are being developed now who will serve to provide that very interaction. Some of the needed volunteers are very similar to those found serving within the physical walls of our church campus from greeters and small group facilitators to more internet-specific roles such as live technical assistance. Yet, these volunteers can be located anywhere and will be able to serve those who are located anywhere. A church without walls in the truest sense.
This venue offers the opportunity for those who might not set foot in a church, to visit. It is not necessarily something that would draw me, but I am intrigued nonetheless upon consideration of how such an idea fits with the changing world. (Besides, I am not the person this church seeks to reach since I show up regularly at the physical location.) One of the inspirations for this endeavor was simply that people are searching for answers in this world. And the word, "search," has morphed into a verb that rolls off the tongue so easily in an all-too-familiar phrase: "Just google it." Whatever one needs can be found with that neat little answer. If one needs Jesus, then why shouldn't He be found at the end of a google search?