Church on the Internet? Seriously?
This is the question many people are asking as more and more people chose to congregate online, and more and more churches look to launch internet campuses. But are these internet churches real? Are they healthy? Are they productive for faith? This is a conversation you can't afford to miss as together we ask, "What does it mean to be the church in the virtual world?"
Samples from SimChurch
A great intro to SimChurch is available in the Zondervan widget to the left. The widget includes Bobby Gruenewald's foreword, Chapter 1 and part of Chapter 2, plus the index and more.
SimChurch includes some photos from my experiences in the virtual world, but in the book the images are low-res and black and white. Here are those images in higher-res and color:
The Second Life Promo Video
As I was researching and writing SimChurch, one task the Zondervan team asked of me was to create an introduction to the book on video. Not knowing much of anything about videography, the idea for 'filming' the video in SecondLife was born. Most people may not realize it, but the scene of the people 'dancing' was actually shot during a Christian worship-music festival in Second Life - the 'dancing' is actually avatars worshipping.
Interviews on SimChurch
Recently I sat down to discuss the SimChurch book; these are some excerpts from that interview. The first clip is "What is a Virtual Church?" and the second is "Why SimChurch?"
Reviews and Endorsements
Whether you're a tech expert or a skeptic, SimChurch does a masterful job of bringing everyone into this important conversation. Step into SimChurch and begin exploring new dimensions of ministry. -- Bobby Gruenewald, Innovation Pastor, LifeChurch.tv
SimChurch brilliantly connects the dots between church and history, technology, and current thought about online spiritual community. A worthwhile read for anyone interested in real ministry and real connection in the virtual world. -- Brian Vasil, Internet Campus Pastor, Flamingo Road Church
SimChurch is the first book I've read on the virtual church that makes theological sense. -- Net Results magazine
Douglas Estes challenges entrenched ways of thinking about what it means to be the church in light of his positive assessment of virtual congregations. -- Adonis Vidu, Associate Professor of Theology, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
Debate and Discussion
Since their inception, virtual churches have generated a good deal of discussion about their strengths and weaknesses. While SimChurch tackles most of the major issues, I thought it would be good to list other voices in this discussion. If you know of a great article that deals with internet churches, please email me for consideration of inclusion in this list.
- Internet Campuses from A Multi-Site Church Roadtrip
- Mark Brown's audiocast on the reality of virtual church
- A videocast testimony of online church from LifeChurch.tv
- Responses to concerns about online church by Tony Steward
- A lesson from history for doubters by John Saddington
- Changed lives at an Internet Campus
- Strengths of online church by Bobby Gruenewald
- My post, Virtual community as real community on Koinonia
A Network of SimChurches
Since many people ask, "What exactly is a virtual church?" it seemed a good idea to start a list of some virtual churches and internet campuses. Links or SL locations are listed below. Do you know of a virtual church? If so, please email me for consideration of inclusion on this list.Flamingo Road Church Internet Campus
LifeChurch.tv Internet Campus
Anglican Cathedral in Second Life
Seacoast Church Internet Campus
Faith Promise Church Internet Campus
McLean Bible Church Internet Campus
Saddleback Church Internet Campus
The Church at Chapel Hill Internet Campus
Douglas Estes is the Lead Pastor of Berryessa Valley Church, San Jose, CA and an Adjunct Professor at Western Seminary-San Jose. He is the author of numerous publications including the books The Temporal Mechanics of the Fourth Gospel and SimChurch. He is a regular contributor to Zondervan's Koinonia blog, as well as at the BVCBlog. He lives in San Jose with his wife, Noël, and his children, Wyatt and Bridget.