Virtual Ministry – A Perspective
When I first considered participating in a church service in a virtual space, it took some mental gymnastics to wrap my mind around the concept. The technical aspects intrigued me but I had no idea how it would work. Ministry sans the face to face experiences that I’d had up to that time didn’t seem like it would have the same reality. Yet, when I walked my avatar into the space, I felt a connection that I wasn’t getting in the brick and mortar congregation I was then worshipping with. Having done research on welcoming and how congregations do this (or don’t do this), I was amazed that a physical personal interaction wasn’t necessary to create an atmosphere of welcoming.
Once I had entered the space, I began to understand why Kimberly was so excited about this way of doing ministry. The folks who were gathering were not the folks you’d see in a brick and mortar church on a Sunday morning or any day of the week. These folks had been burned so badly by ministers and churches who could not or would not accept them that even going near a church, for some, was an emotionally painful experience.
As the church has continued to grow and thrive, it has become a place like no other worshipping community I have ever been a part of. People continue to come as who they identify as – whatever form that identity takes. One of our congregation shows up each and every week as a dragon. Others wear period costumes. It is a place where all are truly welcome. It is a place that one can call home. The community – the congregation – has settled in around the church and on adjoining islands to be close to this space. So in more than one sense, the area is home to the folks who attend regularly. The church is part of their community and they have chosen to locate themselves close by to be even more in community.
To those who are unsure of what virtual ministry can be or is, I encourage you to experience it. Like many things in life, if you don’t experience it, you will not be able to fully understand it. Experiencing the community that is Koinonia will help you to further understand what it is that is ministry in a virtual space. It goes beyond the computer and into your very soul if you but let it in.