Christianity on the Internet?
Is it possible to become a Christian online? Can you really have a serious discussion without meeting the person face to face?
These are questions that I´ve been asked since the 90´s. My answer: Of course it´s possible to become a Christian online. And some of the best discussions I´ve had have been online.
Everybody has a say. Early 2000 I was active on the biggest community in Sweden called Lunarstorm. On the Christianity forum a person had his nick and B30 beside it. It meant that it was a 30 year old ”boy” that you spoke to. The person had long and interesting discussions about Christianity and people asked the person for advice. After a while this B30 told everyone that it was actually a G14, that is a 14 year old girl. For me it was an awakening. A fourteen year old girl can have as much to say, and sometimes even more, then a 30 year old.
But what if this had been in real life. This fourteen year old girl would probably not have been able to finish her sentence before someone stopped her. Online she could write her entire text from start to finish without someone interrupting her.
Can you meet God online?
When I was active on Second Life (community online) A person visited the church we had. He sat down and listened to a pod radio with the bible. He compared it to the Hebrew texts he had. This person was the son of a Rabbi in Israel. About a month later the person send me a message and asked to talk about Christianity. He had figured out that if the old testament was correct then the new one must also be correct. So he became a Christian. Unfortunately since his father was a Rabbi, he had to be a Christian in secret in the beginning. But he could join our services, and he had a Christian community to belong to even if it was online. I think it is important and especially in
Dangerous zones and places where Christians are persecuted.
It´s a place where the Church can offer help and community online in a safe way. The Church can offer services, prayers, community even if the physical part is missing you can still have the rest. A Church that is persecuted don´t have time for deeper theological thoughts. That´s when the Church can work like the first apostles. We who live in safety can send letters to the persecuted church. We can have the long theological discussions. And pray for those who are persecuted.
Meet the youths where they are.
In Sweden we´ve been talking about meeting the people where they are. The youths have been online for a long time now. Those who work in the Church have used a lot of the online communities. We need to use the communities they use today. The Church needs to both have it´s own pages but also a presence on other sites. Both the nice ones but I believe we should also be on the sites that people shy away from. Jesus visited everyone even the prostitutes.
What are the risks?
There is always a risk that you speak to a Troll someone who only wants to destroy a discussion and provoke. But I think the benefits outweighs the rest. The Church is doing a lot online, but we are still far behind the rest.
So what to do?
Services online, helping people by chat, being on the different sites. As important as it is to show yourself in the community as important is it to show yourself online.