CODEC - Christian Communication in a Digital Age

an amalgamation of three research centres at St John's exploring:

- Biblical Literacy
- Preaching and Communication
- Theology & Cultural Engagement

Working in partnership with:
Churches Media Council & The Bible Society

Friday, 10 July 2009

Online Communities

Muriel Sowden writes:


An idea that has been rolling around in my head and won't go away is that of an online "intentional religious community" (not a church) where "followers"  (brothers, sisters) are dispersed but come together online for prayer, worship. Not just contacting each other by e-mail, but where the centre of their spiritual lives is online.  A true religious community following a Rule  (or Rhythm) of life.  A "fresh expression" of religious life. I would be interested to hear if anyone at the digital symposium next week has any experience of this or thoughts on it - whether it could be possible to have an online Religious Order, or whether it is an unworkable idea. 

Hope the Symposium is useful!


There are some good examples of such communities already online some being intentional  communities and others intentional church experiences - such as Earth Abbey, St Pixels, Anglican Cathedral in Second Life and others.  I wonder whether people might like to put some more links for Muriel to follow up into the comments?


1 comment:

  1. Very often, those who make an online community their main or only Christian community do so because it’s not possible or desirable to attend offline church for some reason.

    i-church was originally founded as an online Benedictine community, and in common with all online Christian communities or churches that I know of, is the main or only community for some members (including myself as the priest in charge) but I don't think that's quite the same thing. I don’t personally know of any online Christian community which is the main or only community for all of its members, (though I'm sure they must exist), which I think is what Muriel is talking about.

    The 3D Church of Fools experiment in 2004 was very absorbing – in fact it seemed to be addictive for some participants – so it may be that an intentional online community could have arisen from those people had it continued. But on the other hand, we always knew it would close in 3 months so the intensity of people's engagement with it may have been more intense because they knew it wasn't going to be there for long.

    I think the main issue with forming and maintaining online community is that of stability (a good Benedictine word!) It's is very easy to disappear from an online community without saying goodbye.

    Also, the level of interaction that is needed to keep people's interest alive might militate against community. The most active forums tend to be those where there is a reliable stream of new members, and enough argument and controversy to keep the post rate up.

    A community founded on these principles would look very different from what we think of as a 'Christian community' - whereas a community based on silence and mutual support might look fairly unappealing to people who spend a lot of their time online!

    Pam Smith
    Pam Smith