“Now the large group of those who believed were of one heart and mind, and no one said that any of his possessions was his own, but instead they held everything in common.” Acts 4:32 HCSB
The Internet is built to contain communities within virtual worlds. It exists alongside the real world; with both the problems of evil and potential for good. These problems and possibilities provide believers with an ever-expanding potential for ministry (online and offline). So, how do followers of Jesus minister within this expanding virtual universe?
Looking at the Internet from a positive perspective, it has become a gathering place for people of all kinds. In the recent past the web was used primarily to share information and collaborate on ideas. Most recently, it has become a place to share our stories and life events. It is a virtual community that is being used for networking to make and/or maintain relationships; and like most gathering places it draws entrepreneurs. The virtual marketplace is thriving. The list of online activities is continually growing.
Many institutional churches have been slow to adapt and have used the Internet as an advertisement for their offline fellowship. Many believers seem to consider the Internet more a hinderance to God’s work then a help. However, there is no denying that the Internet, social media in particular, is taking hold of the hearts, minds and families of our nation.
Do organic forms of the church have the heart for online ministry? (One Heart) If so, do we have a purpose for ministering online? (One Mind) As Christ’s family are there ways of better accomplishing God’s purpose together? (One Family) For those who are considering online missions the possibilities are huge. So, what opportunities is God making available to those willing to minister in a virtual context?
“In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” Augustine of Hippo