Important Disclaimer

Since I currently have several employers/supervisors/churches/etc., please know that none of the words on my blog represent them or their beliefs. This blog is my own creation.

It also does not represent my children's perspective, nor my mother's; they think I am funny, but misguided.
(Quick update: only my mother thinks I'm funny now.)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Where Is Everybody?

Dandelion Seed
A weed. But good in a salad. So there's that.
Last Tuesday, Bruce Reyes-Chow posted about a new Presbyterian church plant:

I'm very excited to be part of the leadership team for this church plant, since it will be a church fully integrated with social media. Those of us participating in this church plant are geographically distant, but committed to one another and this project.

Some folks have pushed back on the idea of a "virtual church," saying that internet connections cannot take the place of face to face relationships. But I am excited about this church plant precisely because it does not pretend that virtual connections replace face to face relationships. Social media and face to face contact augment each other and become a seamless part of many of our relationships. It is no longer possible for me to remember whether I first met someone at a conference or through Twitter. Most of my really good friendships maintain themselves through a solid mix of social media contact and in person gatherings. I still have good friends I never see online. And I have good friends I've never met in person. 

This church plant aims to take advantage of a wide spectrum of communication patterns and habits; instead of a building, our central hub will be the interwebs. (The Facebook group is here)

I've heard a lot about the legitimacy of internet connections. Some people say Facebook is fake. Some people say Twitter is for people who don't have lives. This last week Facebook and Twitter were my lifeline as my life spiraled through sorrow and joy at a dizzying pace.

I live far from my immediate family. I am a single parent of two young men with special needs. I am a pastor, which complicates congregational membership (as in I can't belong to a church). When I need or want connection, trying to get on someone's calendar for lunch can be a frustrating experience. But I can Tweet. I can Facebook. I can Blog.

The connections I have formed over the last three years on Twitter and Facebook (and through my blogs) have been strong and diverse. I am connected to people I couldn't have dreamed of connecting to in person. Those connections have led to all kinds of work, getting my writing published, babysitters for my children, and help with school. Some might say I could and should make those connections in person first, but I don't know why that should be so. Many of my online connections have turned into face to face connections. And many of my in person relationships have migrated online--especially as folks have moved away from seminary.

This last week a deer leaped into my car. I tweeted and facebooked so I wouldn't feel so alone. And so I wouldn't freak out with my children looking on. 

This last week I was offered a job. I tweeted and facebooked because I knew my friends would celebrate with me. And they did!

This last week I had to take my son to the emergency room. As our medical drama has unfolded over the last few days I have tweeted and facebooked in addition to reaching out in person to folks. I've received prayers, offers of help, commiseration, advice, and plenty of stories. A couple of folks asked if I'd considered amputation. A few folks offered to tell me more than I can bear to hear right now about Lyme Disease. Everyone has been holding us with love.

Today one of my sermons was published in an e-book. Of course I called my mother. But I also facebooked and tweeted and even google-plused. I'm really excited! Guess where the connection to the publisher came from? An online connection.

This is church, y'all. Church planters say to go where there are people and plant a church. These days, if you want to go where the people are, you gotta go online. But it's just like if you want to know where the youth are on Sunday morning, you go to the balcony, cuz they're hiding up there. And yeah, you hang out in the balcony and form those relationships. But eventually you wander out of the balcony and out to lunch. And drive off on a trip somewhere. And show up at their basketball game, school play, life crisis in the hospital, and do their wedding. Church is going where people are. And people are online. But that's just the beginning and only half the story.

Links to a few other posts on this church plant:

     Jack Jenkins: A Church Online?

     Mihee Kim-Kort: A Church Online | Beta What's the Point?

     Bruce Reyes-Chow: 10 Reflections and 1 Invitation After the First Week of the New Church Plant

     Stephen Salyards: Where Two or Three Are Gathered

     Derrick Weston: A Church Online?


  1. My experience online has been similar and I am excited about this new online church. I am looking forward to getting your e-book. Congratulations on being a published author in an edited book!

    I missed that you got a job. Congratulations! What is your new job?

    Hope your "little guy" is doing much better today.
    Janet Bohren

  2. This is an awesome explanation of why it all holds together somehow, through the grace of God.... just like church.

  3. What's been meaningful for me in social media relationships is that moment when I do get to meet these friends face to face. It's like heaven: people I haven't seen in living color already know me. It's wonderful.

    Re: Lyme Disease. How can I help you from where I am (in Chicagoland)? I will do what I can.

    1. Thanks, Jan :-) Continued prayers are welcome. We'll know more as we see specialists, but he is already feeling much better.


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