(You may want to read: Blogger Limelight Explained.)
Over at A Mile From the Beach, Andy kicked off a Limelight discussion on what is popularly known as the "Cyberchurch." Andy asks for takes based on these four premises from a Relevant Magazine article:
- Cyberchurch is People, not Institutions
- Cyberchurch is not a Department Store for Consumers
- Cyberchurch is neither democratic nor non-hierarchical
- Cyberchurch does not replace the physical and it does a poor job reproducing it
So, what kind of beast is the Cyberchurch? What functions can it perform? As the Relevant piece states, "Cyberchurch is people..." I found it interesting that the other three points are negative, that is, they state what Cyberchurch, according to the author, is not. Maybe this is because some people tend to inflate the potential for online spirituality (i.e., "Why go to church?!") But in my opinion, additional positive statements are needed if this concept is going to be fleshed out.
By saying "Cyberchurch," are we merely saying "Christians who happen to be online at the moment?" Well, OK. But that's not exactly showstopping.
Personally, I'm not overly excited about the tag, "Cyberchurch." After I've said it about five times, it's already feeling slightly ridiculous. I'm not sure I want to dress up online friendships with a new, spiffy title. Why not simply consider the Web as a helpful staging area for conversation and encouragement, a new means for discussion - though with some necessary limitations.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not down on online conversations - in reality, I benefit from them a lot. I just feel cautious, in our culture of isolation and materialism, about giving people extra incentive to drop out of "real" life and sign in online. I love the connectivity and friendships that have been formed via this blog (Christian and otherwise). But I'm reluctant to adopt a label that may be misleading, and perhaps, unnecessary.
All told, I think the conversations that occur in the "Cyberchurch" context are legit, and often very motivating. It's the label that I'm unsure about.