I’ve got a birthday coming up and for years when my wife Debbie would ask me what I wanted as a gift my response was always the same. ”Nutin”. I did elaborate by saying, “I don’t want or need a thing.” And I really didn’t. When she asked me that question this year, I had different answer. I told her I wanted an Oculus 2 Virtual Reality headset.
VR headsets are projected to become a household staple in the future for purposes of gaming, entertainment, virtual travel, and socialization. I am intrigued at the socialization aspect because right now through VR technology we can attend church board meetings, small group Bible studies and even worship services. Congregants with VR headsets can use AltspaceVR, a social media platform that provides digital meeting spaces for avatars to interrelate with one another. I created an avatar for myself. (It looks younger, thinner and has more hair than me.😊
Last Easter Sunday instead of sitting in a sanctuary like millions of Americans did, or didn’t, there were tens of thousands of experience-driven parishioners from all around the world who virtually took a walk from the cross to the empty tomb, as if they were really there.
Now before you think your board chair is going to say, “Not in my church’s lifetime”, imagine with me the possibilities of living out the “All are welcome” that we profess. As church we can reach out digitally to a diverse group of people, including those who for whatever reason have not felt welcomed and possibly will never step into a physical church again.
Just ask Martin Luther, the father of the Protestant reformation, which started as a message posting just over 500 years ago. The church usually celebrates Reformation Sunday on the last Sunday of October.
How do you think the 95 thesis which Luther nailed to the door of the Wittenberg church became so widely well know? In Luther’s day the door of the church was the village’s messaging platform. If one wanted to communicate something to the community, they posted it on the church’s door. Anything.
Now I am not saying that your church will be going totally virtual in the next few years, but digital technology is making it possible to reach people you never have before. The message of the gospel never ever changes but the medium of communicating the gospel always changes.
answers to Schatzie:
if found, please return to Frau Schultz
Luther’s 95 theses nailed to the Wittenberg door called out the indulgences in the Catholic Church like priest’s exchanging forgiveness of sin for financial kickbacks and offering “Get out of purgatory free” cards, for a monetary donation.
How did Luther’s writings about the injustices that were going on in the Catholic church even get noticed by anyone other than those in that small community of Wittenberg some sixty miles south of Berlin?Just ask Swiss inventor Johannes Guttenberg who not long before, invented the printing press. The pamphlet of Luther’s 95 theses was printed and distributed to thousands across Germany in just a couple of weeks and within a couple of months it went viral across Europe.
The message of the Gospel never changes but the medium of communicating the gospel always changes. We as leaders in the church must continually seek new ways of attracting and connecting people to the church because some of methods still used in church are frankly medieval.
God’s plan for letting our world know about Jesus has been entrusted to us, Christ’s church.
“Through Christians like yourselves gathered in churches, this extraordinary plan of God is becoming known and talked about, even among the angels! All this is proceeding along lines planned all along by God and then executed in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 3:10-11
As church pastors and ministry leaders, let’s urge our people to be bold about reaching out to their friends, neighbors. co-workers and social media acquaintances. Encourage them to nail the good news your church has to offer on their Facebook walls, in their texts and tweets and Instagram posts. Do your best to create a buzz about how your church is fulfilling God’s purposes so that you are becoming known and talked about even among the angels.
I have dedicated a chapter in my book “Church Turnaround A to Z’ to the topic of digital ministry. Click on the link Church Turnaround A to Z – Kindle edition by Ermoian, Kyle. Religion & Spirituality Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.