Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Fundamental Functions of the Online Church (Part 4 of 6)

Continuing in our discussion of the Fundamental Functions of the online church, we now turn to InReach. Although we already discussed InReach a little bit, since .5 of it reaches into worship in the area of discipleship. I see discipleship as an overlapping function that unites UpReach and InReach.

InReach - Fellowship

The Fundamental Function that rests securly in InReach, however, is Fellowship. Fellowship appears to be primarily focused on encouraging other believers, caring for them, and building them up. While it may have a secondary role of pushing someone toward UpReach, the primary task in InReach.

The online church may not be able to have your traditional potluck dinners or your weekly gatherings around a cup of joe, but I do believe that real fellowship can happen through digital media. I believe that as technology improves this idea will become more and more a reality in many people's lives. Of course mobile devices and text messaging are already very popular and easy ways to stay in touch with friends and family constantly.

A few popular web services that already help people stay connected are:
Skype - offering computer to computer voice and video communication in real time
AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) - a standard in text-based instant messenging
Yahoo Messenger and MSN Messnger- like AIM, but with the added bonus of voice communication
Twitter - quick updates from your friends either from computer or via txt message on a mobile device
TeamSpeak or Ventrilo - voice communication popular with gamers. Provides different rooms for large groups to be broken into smaller groups for better organization/communication.

What are some ways you keep in touch with people in real time? How could you use this technology to facilitate fellowship within your church?

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