And just like that, the global church was thrust into the biggest house church experiment ever seen in human history. Not quite the same as previous house church movements, most of our new aggregations of media-connected believers came about suddenly due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the necessity of isolation.
But we find ourselves at a moment of pivot into a new way of thinking about church and the media we choose to communicate with to each other and the world. Two things come to mind:
- To find ourselves meeting as extended households (“oikos” in the New Testament) causes us to ponder the meaning of church itself. Questions of closeness and distance, physical and virtual, real and symbolic, outreach and seclusion.
- To find ourselves employing new digital media to carry our most precious thoughts and responses to a wider ecclesia causes us to examine the nature and behavior of new media, how we shape it and how we are shaped by it. Transcoding church rather than simply transmitting a Sunday service.
This is the beginning of a series of posts to ignite discussion on these topics, to retrieve the conversations from some years ago when those of us shaping the early internet were diving into the theory behind new media and reexamining the response of church to new online forms of fellowship, worship and witness, and also to ask the right questions about this strange moment, as temporary as it may be, as it bleeds into a new era of church life. I am calling it Transcoding Church.
A little intro about me. In 1996 I was leading a house church in San Francisco. That same year I was also active on the world’s first chat room The Well. By 1997 I had started my first blog (Andrew’s Tea Salon) to explore the relation between new organic forms of church and their interaction with new digital technologies. That conversation has fascinated me ever since and I have traveled the world to meet with key leaders and practitioners, as well as teaching on the subject. Now in 2020, these two worlds collide in a way we could never have imagined.
It looks like we are all settling in and getting cosy for the month of April. Maybe this could be a great learning moment for us all. I invite you join in and offer your thoughts, your links to helpful articles and posts, your questions and struggles.
See you tomorrow.