Monday, October 24, 2005

The First Church of the Blogosphere

I've been missing church a lot over the last few months since Mrs. Zeke has been caring for my mom in Phoenix and I've been coming down on the weekends. Well, let me clarify that: I haven't been attending church. I haven't really missed it. And I'm not sure that's a problem (Mrs. Zeke is probably rolling her eyes back in her head as she reads this, but hear me out honey).

If you ask people why one should attend church, they'll commonly respond:
  • To hear the Word of God
  • So as to not forsake the fellowship of the believers (Heb 10:24)
  • To receive encouragement
  • To serve the Body of Christ
I agree that all of these are important, but I disagree that the mode the modern church offers to fulfill these--at your typical church, Sunday morning service; at my AoG church, Sunday morning and Sunday evening, along with the ancillary meetings and events for all types of churches--is the way that you get these benefits. Fact is, what I find rewarding in my association with my church is the ways in which I serve (which frankly should be at the top of the list for all Christians and yes, serving is a benefit and not a cost). My time on the Board, my time on the worship team, pulling weeds and painting and the like. The rest of church is near a waste of time for me as far as getting anything from that list of benefits. The nicey-nice banter before and after service is annoying and the sermons are boring. And it basically doesn't matter who's speaking, so no one should take that personally.

So am I really missing anything by not attending services? Is that the only way for me to get those benefits, however imperfectly? Well, no it isn't.

Amidst my wanderings back-and-forth in the blogosphere, posting and commenting, emailing and podcasting, I and the friends I've made here have been having church. Of course, we have no physical building and for the most part we don't see each other. Very few of us even speak by phone. But the exchanges we have are more transparent, more real, and more uplifting than the flaccid, be-happy banter that I get (and frankly give) on Sunday mornings at my church. Because of the transparency of our exchanges, I get to see the humanity of my blogosphere friends in a way that I rarely see at church. Because I myself am more transparent here than at church, I have been able to receive encouragement that is more targeted and significant than the general well-meaning platitudes I've received from my fellow churchmembers.

And I have grown as a result. The First Church of the Blogosphere--and no, it's not formal, there is no building, no membership rolls, no belief statement, and no paid staff or even staff at all--is diverse, dynamic, heavily pollenated, passionate and fun. It engages, challenges, and plows new ways to receive and give as human beings.

Let me tell you about the people in my congregation. A couple of brothers, a seminary student, a programmer, a diverse collection of ex-pastor guys, a poet/bard, some Florida radio buddies, a psychologist, a megachurch guy, and many more. What's coolest about this congregation is that through our relationships, we are connected to an incredibly diverse group of people. Think of it as six degrees of Blogger; everyone who has a blog is connected to another blog by x degrees of separation. In other words, the whole world can end up on one of the many doorsteps of our church. We are not bound by geography or limited by a calendar or clock. No one "teacher" is burdened with coming up with a weekly message; new messages blossom up daily from all corners of our church and they can be accessed at leisure.

It's my belief that this new form of having church will force change within all churches, the evangelical church included. Just as the blogosphere has dramatically challenged traditional media, so it is challenging traditional church.

An interesting aside: in Left Behind, Tsion Ben Judah, the Israeli philosopher who became sort of the Bible teacher to the tribulation world that could no longer attend church out of fear of persecution used the internet to teach the Word. So if you believe in the version of the future that Left Behind teaches, it's just a matter of time before we do church on the internet anyway. And please don't take this comment seriously.

There's a lot here, so the next episode of Godscrum will deal with just this.


At 11:28 PM, Blogger Kc said...

I’m a firm believer in it, whatever it is. I call it the law of sowing and reaping. When I started blogging I hoped to be an encouragement and to share what I could that might help. In return I’ve been encouraged and received much more than I’ve given. It seems you have a great desire to minister to the spiritual needs of those who seem to be without and in return your needs have been met. Just a late night observation. ;-)

I’m honored to be on your list. I know it’s not popular to say but nevertheless tis true, I’m praying for you all and your situation. I'm looking forward to your next podcast.

At 12:36 AM, Blogger Michelle said...

My thoughts exactly - only so much better than I could have expressed them. So I've linked up to this post to express where my headspace is lately.


At 11:36 AM, Blogger Nunzia said...

Thanks for this post! and thanks for visiting my blog! I've been getting some harsh criticisms since your last visit ( oh well... at least someone is reading! hope you'll be back! :)

At 1:37 PM, Anonymous Mrs Zeke said...

Ok babe so my eyes my be stuck rolled backwards :P

All I am saying is this cause this is your blog and your world.

Both the internet world and the 3d church world have the same value. However Church has never been for me what you listed it is for others or even you if it ever is then may God help me. The day that happens I will have nothing.

Maybe you can't understand that and I don't expect you to be able to. I love and adore you either way. So go and be who you are but don't throw away one value for another when you don't have to.

See babe I can be nice :)
I didn't even get my sword out, ok I dusted it off but thats it.

Your so cool

At 4:06 PM, Blogger Zeke said...

A wife who thinks you're cool is a very, very good thing. In fact, that ought to be in Proverbs.

A wife who thinketh her man cool: is this not the bomb?

At 10:47 PM, Blogger Tony Myles said...

What? How did I become "mega-church guy?" I was hoping for "currently-unemployed-smoothie-drinker" or "he-who-watches-Lost-and-Smallville-too-intently."

At 12:11 AM, Blogger ninjanun said...

Thanks for listing me as the poet/bard instead of "Queen of the Dustbunnies" or something. :) I'm flattered.

Although Queen of the Dustbunnies sounds like a good name for a band. Or possibly a poem. Or heck, at least a blog entry title! :p

At 6:50 AM, Blogger Zeke said...

Tony: Tell you what, you pick a moniker and it'll be yours. That's why God gave Blogger an edit function. :)

At 6:52 AM, Blogger Zeke said...

Nun, be glad I didn't call you our Pear-Shaped Princess.

At 7:37 AM, Blogger curious servant said...

Here is why I go to church (and in their order of importance):

1. Worship. It is ALL about Him. I go there to praise Him and to do it corporately. To be a part of a body that is focussing on the Creator. It is a tithe of my time, and is spent in telling Him that He is my God.

2. Community. I go there to be with my brothers and sisters. This allows them to hold me accountable and for me to check on their lives as well.

3. To Learn. I need to hear the Word and receive instruction for me to grow. Sorry pastor, but you come in third.

At 6:00 AM, Blogger ~Kat said...

"We are not bound by geography or limited by a calendar or clock."- -

Sounds like your own version of Happenstance and Geography. :)

I'm right there with you - we're even starting a small group over at H&G to "do life together"... apart! :)

God's Blessings, Brother!

At 7:06 AM, Blogger Wasp Jerky said...

I think part of the problem is that people tend to view church as somewhere you go, as a place, instead of as a community of believers, which is what the church really is. We are the church. The church is not the million dollar idols we put up on every street corner. Church buildings didn't exist until the second or third century. Believers met in homes.

At 11:05 PM, Blogger Nicole said...

Woo hoo, Kevin's wife thinks he's cool too!


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