Doug Estes anticipates his forthcoming book SimChurch: Being the Church in a Virtual World with an article at Christianity Today’s Out of Ur blog: In Defense of Virtual Church.
The opening paragraph contains perhaps the least thoughtful thing I’ve ever read at Out of Ur:
If we read carefully the criticisms levied against internet campuses, they boil down to some very common and tired themes: Internet campuses and online churches are not true churches because they don’t look like and feel like churches are expected to look like and feel like
This sentence tells me two things: 1) Estes has not, as he says, “read carefully.” 2) He is about to engage in some extended silliness.
And he does. For several lengthy paragraphs, he interacts with nobody in particular and nothing of substance. It is, fittingly enough, a fine simulation of an argument.
It is not worth the time of an old school fisking. A sampling of its rhetoric will speak for (or rather, against) itself.
“Let’s lay aside for a moment that nowhere in the Bible does it preclude online church, in any way.”
“Virtual churches are not fake churches; they are real churches that use synthetic space as a meeting place”
“We hear and read the myth that the reason why virtual churches are not real is because they don’t have real community. Really? All this time I thought that church—and real, biblical community—had nothing to do with where a church meets. Isn’t church supposed to be about people in communion with God rather than the building?”
If I have to explain the un-virtual deficiencies in such lines, Estes’ work is probably right up your alley.
But if Estes’ book is anything like his blog post, he has done the “internet church” crowd no favors.