What does it mean to "do" church in the virtual world?
Are internet campuses just niche ministries or the next step in the multisite revolution?
Will virtual churches be individualistic or actually encourage families to worship together?
Can an online church be a missional church?
Is it even possible or healthy to "be" the church in the virtual world?
If you're passionate about the church, outreach, and technology, and feel both excitement and concern about combining them, then these are just some of the vital issues you and other innovative followers of Jesus must grapple with. Rich in both biblical and current insight, combining exploration and critique, SimChurch opens a long-overdue discussion you will want to get educated in rather than be left in the dark.
Estes offers the most even-handed, informed, and insightful overview to date of what virtual-world ecclesia means not only within its own confines, but also to ecclesia in the physical world. At the risk of over-stating the case, it is increasingly incumbent upon clergy and lay leaders alike to familiarize themselves now...right now...with the information Estes renders so clearly.
If your church is even thinking about starting an internet campus (or has one already), this book should be required reading. It brilliantly connects the dots between church history, technology, and current thought about online spiritual community. While it doesn’t answer every question (and no book could, given the newness of the subject matter), it goes a long way toward resolving the query: is church online ‘real’ or not? As an internet campus pastor, I think this book tells it like it is and what it will be. A worthwhile read for anyone interested in real ministry and real connection in the virtual world.
Christian theology has yet to take full stock of the emergence of virtual worlds together with its promises and perils for the church. Douglas Estes challenges entrenched ways of thinking about what it means to be the church in light of his positive assessment of virtual congregations. While this book makes some controversial points, at the very least it raises provocative questions as it attempts to shift the burden of proof to the defenders of traditional models of church.
Whether you're a tech expert or a skeptic, SimChurch does a masterful job of bringing everyone into this important conversation. Regardless of where you find yourself on these issues, it's critical we ask ourselves what online community and virtual environments can mean for our churches. Step into SimChurch and begin exploring new dimensions of ministry.