By Mark D. Roberts | Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Last week I participated in the Christian Web Conference at Biola University in La Mirada, California. I represented The High Calling of Our Daily Work, a sister ministry of Laity Lodge, which helped to sponsor the conference. The CWC is the newest update of GodBlogCon, a conference originally focused on blogging. Now the conference looks at a wide range of online media, especially social media such as Facebook, etc. I thought I might share with you a few observations about the CWC.
First, I was impressed once again by the hospitality of Biola University, especially the Torrey Honors Institute. This institute was the main sponsor of the CWC, and the Torrey students were the heavy lifters for planning and programming. They did an exemplary job. The Torrey students are bright, committed, and hard-working. They are well on their way to being the top leaders of the future. Dr. John Mark Reynolds, founder and director of the Institute, has done a fantastic job. He and his people are to be highly commended. (Photo: Biola University)
Second, I was impressed by the maturing of Web-based ministries. When we first got together at GodBlogCon, most of us were just beginning to expore the power of the Internet. Now, many of the participants and leaders at the CWC are wise and sophisticated users of the Internet. The original euphoria about the power of blogging and the Web is mostly gone, replaced by a more grown up perspective on its benefits and detriments.
Third, that’s not to say that some people aren’t dangerously ensnared in the Web and its allurements. I was impressed (and, frankly, distressed) to have several conversations with people who are truly convinced that its is possible to have church that is 100% an online experience. That’s right, no human contact that is not mediated by the Internet. “What about the sacraments?” you ask. Some of the folks at the CWC were seriously arguing that one could even have communion and practice baptism virtually, by using web cams, texting, etc. No joke! Let me add that many of the leaders of the CWC, while seeing potential for the Internet to help the church, are strongly opposed to the idea that one could have a full church experience via the Internet alone. Neverthless, the idea is out there and thriving in some circles. It is closely related to the growing popularity of multi-site churches, where, for example, a preacher preaches in one location, and is beamed to several others.
Fourth, I was reminded again of the fact that the Internet is simply a tool, an extremely powerful tool, but only a tool. It can be used for all sorts of purposes, but is, itself, rather purposeless. We who use the Internet need to employ it wisely for the work of the kingdom of God. This is not as easy as it sounds.
Fifth, one of the highlights of the CWC was a guided tour of Downtown Disney by Mel McGowan, one of its chief designers. It was fascinating to hear a world leader of architecture and urban planning talk about how he and others envisioned the amazing space that adjoins Disneyland and California Adventure in Anaheim, California. Mel, who is a vibrant Christian, is now putting his immense creativity to work in Visioneering Studios, a company that seeks to give visual and spatial expression to “re-integrate sustainable Christ-centered community into urban redevelopment and new mixed-use community development globally.” Through what some have called “architectural evangelism,” McGowan and his colleagues seek “to tear down the walls that separate Christians from Community, the Church from Culture, and Christ from the lost.”
Sixth, on a personal level, I was reminded at CWC of how thankful I am to be part of a ministry that seeks to use the Internet in creative ways for God’s purposes. I’m referring, in particular, to The High Calling of Our Daily Work, a Web-based ministry of the Foundations for Laity Renewal, the parent organization of Laity Lodge. Joining me at CWC was Marcus Goodyear, one of the writers and editors at the High Calling, and a pioneer of the High Calling Blog Network. Marcus, and our colleague “Ramblin’ Dan” Roloff, are great partners to me and teachers in things related to the Internet. Together, with the rest of our team at the Foundations for Laity Renewal, we are continually looking for how best to advance the “high calling or our daily work” through the power of the Web.
Topics: Internet |
2 Responses to “Christian Web Conference: A Review”
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