Friday, October 21, 2011
Considering Community: The London Internet Church
Tim Hutchings' article, Considering Religious Community Through Online Churches, talks about two online religious communities and their definition of "community." Hutchings explains that creators of these sites, "shape the emergence of the forms of 'community' they deem theologically and socially desirable." The London Internet Church is an online religious community. The church website provides a mission statement that sums up the purposes of this religious community. The statement explains their purposes of gathering are to share Christian content that will aid a follower in richer understandings of Jesus Christ. Such content includes education, dialogue, worship music, reaching others, and prayer requests. The church also offers a "ministry of encouragement by reporting news of God at work in individuals, churches, communities and nations." The London Internet Church proves its function to be multi-purposeful for its community.
The site provides easy navigation to live out church online. For example, by clicking on the sites "Worship" link, it offers videos that guide members in prayer. Prayer videos include daily morning and evening prayer readings one is encouraged to participate in. The site also can link one to a candle lighting ritual, in which members can "light a candle" as an offered prayer to God. The impacts of this church community offline include loss of face-to-face interaction. Since the site itself substitutes offline church for online church, members lack more meaningful interaction. However, one positive impact is portrayed through the links to Christian news coverage around the world as well as community forums and discussions, this allows members to access a broader community that offline church's can't reach.