Imagine the world where digital reality was our actual reality. Where the Christian faith is purely spread via digital means.
Services are now being streamed online, tithes are getting paid via banking apps and no one can deny that social media is definitely a major way to spread the Gospel.
With all of these changes, I can not help but wonder how different the church would look if it was invented now.
Would it be completely digital or would it have some room for the traditional ways that we know? With this in mind and some research, I came up with a list of the potential things that could happened if the church was created in 2017.
Here is what I imagine a digital church would look like.
Fewer physical churches, more online worship centres: Physical churches would probably never exist since everything, teaching, worship, and so on would be done online. If there are physical churches, they would be very few.
More TV shows, church programmes, apps and websites.
Online streaming of Bible studies and discussions via social media: Unlike the traditional churches where preachers mostly talk at the listeners, the digital church would give for people to respond and ask questions.
24/7 preachers: With the aid of the virtual churches, church members will be able to get in touch with their leaders at any time. These online pastors would be available to answer questions, receive prayer requests and ultimately, lead people to Christ.
Payment of tithes and offerings would be easier: This is already happening in a lot of churches now give their members the option paying via banking apps. Some even have POS machines in church.
Prayer requests, monthly prayers and so on will be offered via SMS: Members can expect something like this ‘pay N1000 to get your monthly personalised blessing and prophecies.’
Communion can be bought online and delivered to your door step.
Youtube and Instagram will be better utilized for streaming revivals and things like the recently conducted Hallelujah challenge.
More pastors will go viral for both good and bad reasons.
More Whatsapp groups for the youth, elders, choir and other sections of the church
Choir practices would be done in recording studios and streamed from there on Sunday morning.
Weekly praise and worship sessions would be downloaded on iTunes, Spinlet e.t.c.
Church weddings would happen live as other members watch on: Church members can join in with the use of hashtags. The pastor/priest will offer his blessings from his house.
Churches like Elevation, Ignite, House on the Rock will be leaders since they already have a great online presence.
Theological conservatism (commitment to traditional values with opposition to change) would also be eliminated. An example is the Catholic church's opposition strong stance against female priests and other churches’ patriarchal structure.
Like with most things, this kind of church will be open to bad things. For instance, anyone with a huge following could start a ‘church’.
In spite of this potential hazard, I have to admit that the digital church does sound great. However, nothing could beat the traditional church.
Yes, I know it’s great to be able to stream a service when you can't make it to church for whatever reason but it is not just the same.
Any dedicated church goer knows that the real feeling you get inside the church can NOT be replaced with a digital church.
Apart from this feeling, there is something inexplicable about fellowshipping with like-minded flesh-and-blood people in a physical place, and other aspects of the church that require human, face-to-face interaction.
Also, having to go to physical church helps us make time for God, this is something that could go away in a world where the church, which is just a click away, has to compete with other things that demanding for our attention.
Karl Vaters of Pivot Blog rightfully said, "Despite having infinitely more knowledge about us than the internet will ever pretend to have, God became human and “made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14) because that’s how God became real to us. With a name, a face and a physical presence. If God needed to do that with us, we need to do that with each other."
This is so true. There is denying that these are the things that make the church what it is and why the online/digital church, although cool and essential at times, could never replace the traditional way of doing things.