Summary: The new normal and the changes coming for the church of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The new normal, the digitization of the church
For the first time in the history of the church, the church went online moving from the brick wall to the silicon wall. Worldwide the church family is moving with urgency and agility trying to set up facilities and be able to contact everybody on the live streaming platform. Which is essentially learning overnight how to be portable and digital. That is what a lot of churches had to go through. . For the first time in the history of the church, they had to use digital technology, having to move everything online.
In the past, many churches have been a little bit slow, but not now to adapt or use virtual networks for certain reasons. Some pastors and leaders have often resisted with their suspicion of the present technology, especially social media technologies. They worry about the corrupting influences and effects that it might portend to the youth. And that these technologies will take the youth away from the faith because of the kind of attention that the technologies require. Again, these technologies could equally make it hard for the youth to attend to spiritual matters.
Some other reason could be the misconception and strange obsession of many believers with the spirit of the Antichrist. Also, most of the elderly are not tech-savvy and refuse to adapt to modern changes. Also in the virtual church, there are no physical congregants, there is nobody in the benches.
But in the virtual church, it is very different. Now how do you conduct worship in this situation? How do you do practice your faith? How do you connect with people?” Well, this crisis has offered us an opportunity to interact with each other in a virtual world. Even in a more creative and, actually, more efficient ways.
The use of social media and online participation in global church fellowship has never been part of our church life for many churches over the years. Many pastors and churches have often discouraged such practice until now. Some had never wanted anything to do with the digitization of the church in this new century. They had preferred keeping the old practice. In fact, many pastors wanted things to remain as they are.
But now during the pandemic, it has become the "new normal" both personally and communally. The COVID-19 has brought a new reality to how the church services are run. The virtualization of the church ministration during this pandemic has introduced a new kind of centralization and de-localization of the Church.
With digitization came the development of broader networks of believers through social media and more use of online technology for individual and group meetings. This I believe would be a practice that would continue even after the lockdown has ended.
The digital world of video-conferencing and live streaming has allowed for greater support and worldwide participation in all areas of church services. Now offering the possibility of seeing the different participants, and hearing the voice of the larger community as believers discuss the grace of God and common good among believers and our future challenges. All done without any strict rules, bylaws, and restrictions for our online fellowship meetings.
The virtual meeting of our brethren face-to-face will always be valued and necessary. This pandemic has called us anew to balance this value with our deep commitment to Christ. This is a new normal and an aberration that does not look too threatening. However, it calls for the need for balance between the main, local and house churches at all levels. Already there is a conscious or unconscious digital transformation behind the way service has been held since the introduction of the internet. But with this crisis, church service is being adapted in an extraordinary way to match the new reality.
Though it is not just a question of technology, it is also a matter of how the church interprets spirituality.