I am what the Dutch call “web dumb.” When people email and ask how they can subscribe to Stuff Christians Like, how they can get an RSS feed or get the posts via email my usual response is “So, the webscapes can do that now? Far out!”
Seriously, let’s look at my online track record:
1. The domain name for this site was taken so I registered a new name with a typo in it.
2. Not understanding Twitter, I register myself as “ProdigalJohn.” Only my name is Jon, so that’s kind of a typo and a guarantee that none of my friends can search for me.
3. On facebook, I decide to go with “Jonathan Christopher” as my name creating further confusion. (That’s my first name and middle name.)
4. I allow a 1957 Chevy dealer to take the .com version of this website.
All in all, I find that I tend to have the web skills of an 1840’s prospector.
That’s why when it came to redesign this site I hired an expert named John Saddington. It’s also why when the church I attend, North Point Community Church, announced they were starting an online church I was completely confused. I clearly want to seem postmodern and relevant so when I heard they were launching northpointonline.tv I had two choices:
1. I could nod my head and pretend I understood what online church was all about. (This is a technique I often do in conversations so that I don’t look stupid.)
2. I could ask a bunch of questions.
Faking it is kind of exhausting and would make for a really boring post, so I decided to go with option number 2 and ask a bunch of questions.
Since North Point often sends out emails called, “A note from Andy Stanley” (the pastor of my church) I thought I would address the questions directly to him. (This is horrible, but every time I see the subject line “A note from Andy” in my inbox, I think to myself, “Andy finally emailed me! I bet he wants me to go on tour with him and Craig Groeschel, or maybe play flag football with him and Rick Warren or at the bare minimum he’s agreed to endorse the Stuff Christians Like book!”)
So here are my questions for Andy Stanley about online churches, or maybe they’re for you if you’re smarter than me about the whole online church movement:
1. If I’m watching a sermon online and I open up another window and answer some emails at the same time, is that a sin? Isn’t that the cyber equivalent of doodling in your bulletin? If I have a really big monitor, does that change your answer?
2. What if the emails are from people I’m in a Bible Study with, so technically speaking, I’m participating in fellowship? Ohh curveball.
3. Do I have to stand up when the worship leader calls us to our feet?
4. If I don’t like the worship songs that day, can I DJ myself with some songs I like from iTunes?
5. If I have a bad connection or the wrong version of flash or my computer crashes, is it safe to assume that I can blame that on the devil? If so, can I put him on notice?
6. How long can I pause the sermon, go do chores/answer the phone/find more comfortable socks to wear etc. and then come back without it seeming like I’ve left church?
7. There are only two occasions in which I wear a belt: A business meeting at work where I want to look smart and church. Do I have to wear a belt to attend online church?
8. Is it weird if I’m still shy about singing with my hands raised during online church? Should I still be doing the ninja in my own home? Is that something a counselor can help me with?
9. If I watch the sermon on a podcast, do you mind if I fast forward through the first few minutes of the sermon where you recap last week’s message for the people that weren’t there?
10. Someone once told me they consider eating at Chick-Fil-A to be tithing. Now that I’m using my computer to attend church, can I consider a new Mac purchase to be like one big, silvery cool tithe?
11. Will you please not cut off the podcast before or in the middle of the closing prayer? People at home like closing prayers too. (I’m talking to you Matt Chandler.)
12. Is there anyway that you could create a frame around the video player that has a graphic of someone giving someone else a back massage during church, someone coughing and the heads of the tall family I inevitably manage to sit behind every Sunday so that the experience will feel more authentic?
Those are the questions I have for Andy Stanley. And for you.
Does your church have an online version?
Would you have asked something different than me?
What do you do online when it comes to church? Blogs? Podcasts? Video sermons?
Are you currently doing anything church related online?
So many questions!