I just started skimming this book that a sister loaned me a couple of years ago before moving away. It’s timely and straightforward. Here are some quotes:
“a nationwide survey by …(The Barna Group)…reports that a greater number of adults experience the Christian Faith through Christian media (TV, radio, books, CDs, internet-BPN) than attend Christian churches.”
“In real church, you must deal with the real people in unscripted, unedited, often messy interaction. The virtual church allows you to be taught, entertained, and encouraged safely in you confines of your own home or vehicle. If you do meet with other believers, chances are they are believers of your own choosing. Church is often a drive away. Virtual church can be held at your own convenience, in your home. Real church meets as the same place and time every week in a specific location. The virtual church is usually far more polished than real church–only the best music, the best speakers, and a built-in time limit to the message! Who could ask for anything more?”
“To attend real church you must get up at a certain time on a weekend, the only time most of us have to rest. Trying to get the family ready and on time can be a monumental task at times. Even if you want to go, chances are there are some in the family who would rather sleep in on any given Sunday. Parking may be a problem, and, to add to the stress, you may have a responsibility that you have committed to the church. You don’t get to be “ministered to” because you have to fulfill a job or responsibility. Even when you are truly enjoying your ministry or service, it can be draining at times. In real church, if someone or some activity has offended you, you have to face that person or situation every week.”
“These and many more inconveniences can be remedied through the simple process of switching your allegiance to the virtual church: Everyone can sleep in; you don’t have to drive anywhere; you don’t have to do anything but relax, listen to your radio, watch television, or read your book. There is no one to remind you of some personal offense or whose personality you are offended by. You choose the time of the service, the speaker, and even the music! There is no offering plate to deal with (the radio or television preachers will ask for money, but there won’t be a plate coming your way). You won’t have to sit through a boring sermon (not all sermons are boring by the way!). Everything is smoother, better, more polished, and convenient in the virtual church. That’s not hyperbole, it’s just fact.”
Faking Church: The Subtle Defection. Dan Schaeffer. Barbour Publishing, 2004.
Yikes, scary stuff. Even if we don’t quit attending, how can virtual church replace relationships and ministries of the local church. I felt my toes stepped on. How about you?
(The author is not speaking against Christian media but states that most people who create the media are, or would be discouraged, if Christians used the material in place of church instead of as a supplement to faith.)