Thursday, November 29, 2012

A conversation is like a raindrop, both create ripples that create a change in the flow

Why have this conversation?  Why present the idea of a Virtual Church?

I went into registration for this semester of seminary knowing I needed to take an elective.

I had heard that Dr Watkins was on point as far as professors were concerned and I "HAD to take a Watkins class," before I left CTS.

I did not realize that this class would change how I looked at two very (so I thought at the time) separate entities: The virtual world, and the Church.

As I examined the descriptions of the electives offered this semester, I kept coming back to a class called "Theological Grounding and Development of the Virtual Church" taught by Dr. Watkins. I must have read the description of the class ten times before I selected it and clicked "Register."

Thus began a very interesting journey for me.

Each week I have had to write a blog entry, be active in a Facebook group, read many pages in many different books and respond to what I have read, create a YouTube video, research churches who are joining the "virtual" revolution and post links to their sites, and view and comment on all of my classmates blogs and videos.

Dr. Dawson told me to take an elective because I needed a class that was not going to be as demanding and "Full of reading" as my other courses. Well, the joke was on me.

However, of all the classes I have ever taken, this has been by far one of my favorites. It challenged me to be interactive with mediums that I have not explored as in depth before. It has taught me how to read intently and utilize that information in my own personal ministry setting. Most of all though, it has allowed me to find the answer to this question: Why do we need to start this conversation about the Virtual Church?

Why? I'm glad you asked.
We need to start this conversation so that the church can stay relevant. So that the church can find its place in the new context of what we call the "real world."

We have to teach people about this new way to get the Word, the Love, and the Light of Christ out into a changing world.

We have to enable ourselves to get outside of our comfort zones, to be relevant to the comfort zones of those we are trying to reach.

We have to be able to reach as many people as we can by allowing them to come to us however and whenever they can.

We need to start this conversation because we need to CONTINUE the conversation of Jesus.

So, let's be relevant. Let's get Jesus out there. Let's have this conversation. Let's get to virtual churchin'.

In the words of Dr. Watkins-- See you next time. Same place, Same back channel.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

I Went To Church In My Pajamas

Was I so lazy this morning that I didn't even get out of bed to go to church?

Yep.
I was.


But I still went to church.

How, you ask?

I logged on to North Point Church Online today.

I picked up my computer, plugged it into my tv via my HDMI cord, and I watched the church service from the warmth of the flannel snowflake sheets I just put on my bed.

Does this mean I'm lazy?

Not hardly.

Andy Stanley is the pastor of North Point Community Church. His sermon this morning, entitled
"How to Be Rich," spoke to me more than many sermons that I've heard in person.

Some of the points that I tweeted (yeah, I know, tweeting during church, tisk tisk....NOT!)

- Some rich people begin to think they are "smarter than" everyone else, and in turn they start to think they are "better than" everyone else.

-Rich people are plagued by discontentment

-The more a person has, the more he or she wants

and my all time favorite:
-Don't put your hope in riches, but in the one who richly provides.

The scripture he referenced was 1 Timothy 6:17. "Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

I took a personal slap in the face from God this morning because I am constantly stressing about money and finances. I realize that if I put my constant hope and faith in him, I will always have what I need.

I cannot tell you the last time I remember taking something this personal home from a sermon.

Not to say that I don't get anything from the church services and sermons, but today literally changed the way I look at money and possessions.

Thank you, North Point Church, for being online. Had I not visited today, I'd still be stressed about $$$$. Now I have peace as I attempt to continuously put my hope in the Lord.

So tell me again how you think I was lazy for not getting up and going to church-- then I'll ask you what you took from getting up, getting dressed, and sitting in the building for an hour that I didn't get from sitting in my room in my apartment and worshiping in a way that's just a little different than you.

#virtualchurch #imnotlazy #imjustdifferent #yesilovehashtagsandtwitter

Monday, November 12, 2012

Is Instagram the Facebook of the Illiterate?

I was involved in an interesting discussion a few days ago...

Is social media dumbing us down? 

We are now able to post pictures of EVERYTHING in our lives for every one of our followers to see.

Instagram is a new fad for smartphone users everywhere.

It's been around for a little bit, but new users jump on the Instagram bandwagon every day.

The people I was talking to were saying things like "Now people don't have to post a status of what they ate for breakfast, they can just post a picture of it." Or "My sister didn't call me to tell me she was engaged, she just posted a picture of her ring on instagram and tagged me in it. What the heck?!" 

This discussion got me thinking.

What else in social media is dumbing us down?

How scared or confused do we get when someone is texting us and does not use emoticons? 
How often do we find ourselves using emoticons in text messages? People rely on those things to make sure that whoever we are talking to completely understands what we are saying, the emotion behind it, etc. 

WE NEED OUR PHONES TO CORRECT OUR SPELLING!!!!!!

People get so angry at the silly things auto-correct changes their texts to, but at the end of the day- we all need it to correct so many spelling and grammar errors all the time. 

I'll even take this a step further. Is social media taking over the usual face to face reactions we have with people?

How many times do we hear the statement: "He changed his relationship status from "In a Relationship" to "Single" so I guess that means we're broken up.

Facebook has become the new medium to end relationships for many in middle and high school.

Or how about this one: "Well my best friend used to have a picture of us as her profile picture on twitter, but now its her and her boyfriend. She's replaced me. What a bi***."

Then there's my favorite: "You're my boyfriend, why don't you ever write on my facebook wall or comment on my posts?!? You don't really love me, do you?!" 

Social media runs our lives. 

Its sad 

but so very true...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Second Life: The Cheating Husband's Playground

Each week for Theological Grounding and Development of the Virtual Church, we have reading responses that we have to complete and turn in by class on Monday.

I am the student that enjoys having my weekends free of worry about having to complete work, so I choose to do my reading assignments, and this blog, each Thursday, as I get out of class by 12:30.

Today's reading in Sherry Turkle's Alone Together, I was COMPLETELY appalled by part of one of the chapters entitled "Always On."

Before I jump in to the part that made me rather disgruntled, I will provide you with a few definitions:

Marriage: (1) : the state of being united to a person of the opposite sex as husband or wife in a consensual and contractual relationship recognized by law (2) : the state of being united to a person of the same sex in a relationship like that of a traditional marriage <same-sex marriage>
b : the mutual relation of married persons : wedlock
c : the institution whereby individuals are joined in a marriage

Infidelity:a : unfaithfulness to a moral obligation : disloyalty
b : marital unfaithfulness or an instance of it

Relationship: a : a specific instance or type of kinship

  b : a state of affairs existing between those having relations or dealings 

  c : a romantic or passionate attachment

Simultaneous: a: : existing or occurring at the same time : exactly coincident

I think you know where I'm going with this, so now for a quote from the book I mentioned earlier:

   "I meet Pete on an unseasonably warm Sunday in late autumn. He attends to his two children, four and six, and to his phone, which gives him access to Second Life. There, Pete has created an avatar, a buff and handsome young man named Rolo. As Rolo, Pete has courted a female avatar named Jade, a slip of a girl, a pixie with short, spiky blonde hair. As Rolo, he "married" Jade in an elaborate Second Life ceremony more than a year before, surrounded by their virtual best friends. Pete has never met the woman behind the avatar Jade and does not wish to. (It is possible, of course, that the human being behind Jade is a man. Pete understands this but says, "I don't want to go there.") Pete describes Jade as intelligent, passionate, and easy to talk to.
   On most days, Pete logs onto Second Life before leaving for work. Pete and Jade talk (by typing) and then--this is the part that really set me off-- erotically engage their avatars, something that Second Life software makes possible with special animations."

Further down the page, Pete continues to shock the reader word after word when he says:
  "Second Life gives me a better relationship than I have in real life. This is where I feel most myself. Jade accepts who I am. My relationship with Jade makes it possible for me to stay in my marriage, with my family."

So, are we promoting affairs by the promotion of sites such as Second Life? Is it fair to call what Pete is doing "having an affair?"

The virtual world provides ways for people to do just about anything :buy things, sell things, steal things, stalk, bully, and have affairs.

That makes it really hard to judge how much freedom through the virtual world we should really be allowed.

What if Pete's wife found out about Rolo and Jade?
What if Pete's wife WAS Jade?
Is Pete cheating?

Readers: how do you feel about Pete saying his "Relationship with Jade makes it possible for [him] to stay in [his] marriace?"

Just some food for thought.


Thursday, November 1, 2012

One Love

one love, one heart, let's get together and feel alright...

would someone like to explain to me why it is okay to pray for someone's death? 

                      i sure don't understand it...

I was wandering around YouTube on Monday afternoon watching some videos by my classmates in Dr. Ralph Watkins' "Theological Grounding and Development of the Virtual Church" class, when I came across this video:
                                                         Pastor Prays for Obama's Death

You can stop rubbing your eyes to make sure you read that right. You did.

As my boyfriend Cameron said when I showed him the video "That's just another snake who calls himself a Christian. That's insane!"

Imprecatory prayer was the justification that the Reverend Wiley Drake of the First Southern Baptist Church of Buena Park, where he said that his prayers were influential in the death of Dr. George Tiller.

That's not the only person who's death he has prayed for. 

This man is openly giving Christians a bad rap on radio shows, YouTube videos like the one I saw, and other forms of social media, whether or not he placed his beliefs on these social media outlets. 

THINGS GET OUT THERE WHETHER WE PUT THEM THERE OR NOT, Y'ALL!

As Christians, we are called to spread the love and light of Jesus Christ. 

We are not called to spread hate. The devil has enough opportunity to spread hate and lead people away from Christ. 

We must be careful of the things we say and the things we allow to go viral. 

You never know how badly something you say or post could hurt the face of Christianity and the view of Christians everywhere. 

 Rev. Drake said "I am only repeating what God is saying in the scriptures.?" The host then says"Where in the scriptures did God say to kill Barack Obama" 

Don't take the Lord out of context. Don't hinder other people's walks by twisting the words of the Lord.

preach love, share hope, and know peace. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Sometimes things get hard and you have to get it out.

I'm gonna let it out here--as much as I can anyway...



There are times in life where all it takes to get us from our lowest point to our highest is a caring word from a friend.

There are also times when we are so excited about something that we have to share it with anyone and everyone-- even people we don't know.

This week I have gone from my lowest point, up to my highest point.

What was my outlet?

Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. and this blog. 


There was a tragic loss of a loved one in a family that considers me one of their own. It was sudden. It was unexpected. And it hurts.

We have all been filled with a roller coaster ride of emotions this week.
At first the family did not want anything put on Facebook. They soon discovered that Facebook was the one thing that would make things a whole lot easier on all of them.

The morning of the funeral, as people were arriving and speaking to the family, a friend came up and said he had heard of the funeral just that morning--via Facebook.

Then, just this morning, I found out-- VIA FACEBOOK--that my older sister is engaged.

at first I was like "dang Meagan why didn't you call me and tell me. Why did I have to find out on facebook?!"

but then I messaged her and discovered that as soon as she had posted the ring picture on Facebook, her wall and phone had been blowing up with posts.

Social media sites give us the ability to access each other's lives in a split second. It's a new way to communicate with mass amounts of people with the click of a button.

Feel free to comment, ask questions, post arguments-- etc.

Grace and peace.

J.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

" Human beings have dreams. Even dogs have dreams, but not you, you are just a machine. An imitation of life. Can a robot write a symphony? Can a robot turn a... canvas into a beautiful masterpiece?"- Detective Spooner, I, Robot (2004)

People seem to think that robots are going to take over the world one day, like Detective Del Spooner in the film I, Robot, starring Will Smith. 

This translates over into people thinking that the Virtual World is going to take over, especially in regards to the church. 

This is NOT the case. 

In his book Sim Church: Being the Church in the Virtual World, Douglas Estes discusses this very worry. He explains that while the virtual church is a very large development that is currently growing rapidly, it is not a new concept. 

Did you know?: The first virtual church was created in 1985. Notice that this was before the advent of the web? This group of people worshipped together through a text-only interface. (Sim Church p. 25) 

Then we run into this argument: Going to church in the virtual world is not really "GOING TO CHURCH."

Can two or more believers join together on the internet? 

Hello?! Google Hangouts, Yahoo chat, SKYPE! 

Yes, two ore more believers can join together on the internet. 

The Lord says: "For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." (Matthew 18:20)

So, no, the virtual church will never take over, it merely desires to co-exist with the real world church, and wants to work together with the real world church to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Thoughts?