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SimChurch: Being the Church in the Virtual World Paperback – September 22, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
Viewing church services on the Internet is mostly a passive experience, just like watching an TV evangelist. Virtual churches have made a major leap beyond the one-sided nature of viewing a service. Community happens through the Internet; it just may not be the same definition of community that we grew up with. Each generation learns how it is going to connect with each other and technology is a major factor in that decision. The same can be said for churches. What the printing press, automobiles and air conditioning did to change the way society interacts, and the way churches meet, is happening again with the Internet. Whether or not we like the changes, it is here to stay. If a church wants to stay ahead of the curve, learning how to connect with this generation then they need to get plugged in. If, instead, they jump up and down on their pews, pound their pulpits and tip over the baptismal because they think their way of doing church is `right' they need to remember that most churches through history have had none of the conveniences they just threw their temper tantrum trying to defend.
This book was not written by someone on the inside trying to state a case for their virtual gaming world or new church software. Douglas Estes is the pastor of a real, brick and mortar church in San Jose, California; he has a PhD in Theology and is an Adjunct Professor of the New Testament at Western Seminary.Read more ›
For those of you unfamiliar with this new movement, the idea of online church is not just putting a recording of your church service online. Instead, it is actually conducting an entire live church service online, complete with worship, teaching, offering, fellowship, and possibly even communion and baptism. This can include both churches with Internet campuses and those who conduct services in virtual worlds, such as Second Life. The author tackles questions surrounding the validity of online church and asks some tough questions. He ends the book by challenging online churches to break the mold and attempt to do things that no physical-world church can.
If you have read my blog before, you know that I have been a critic of online church. However, as a lover of technology and the Internet, I am always open to thinking in new ways about things and want to see how technology can be used to share the message of Christ. But I am also a realist: I know that just because we can do church online does not mean that we should. So I read this book with an open mind and heart - looking for new ways of thinking about online church.
Some highlights of SimChurch for me included:
- a definition of virtual church as "a virtually localized assembly of the people of God dwelling in meaningful community with the task of building the kingdom."
- the author taking on those who would use the church as described in Acts 2 as a way to discredit the virtual church. The early church existed at a special time in history and we will never fully be able to recapture it.Read more ›
A good portion of SimChurch is dedicated to explaining exactly what is the virtual world. Estes unpacks the verbiage associated with virtual environments. This is both helpful and necessary to building his comparison of the church in the "real world" and the church in the virtual world. What many ministry leaders will appreciate is how Estes demonstrates fidelity to sound ecclesiology while discussing its implications to ministry in the virtual world. Commenting on those who would eschew the validity of virtual world ministry Estes writes,
"...it is easy to point to examples of all the unorthodox behavior that goes on in virtual churches - avatars in lingerie, questionable prophets with Christian conspiracy theories, and marauding trolls. Come to think of it, it's easy to do the same with real-world churches too. Church in the virtual world sounds just like church in the real world - lots of confused and broken people who "share" their confusion and brokenness with others."
It is excerpts like these that draw attention to the fact that "real world" pastors and churches overlook the parallels to their virtual world counterparts at their own peril.
SimChurch is not all about explanation and awareness.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book will definitely make you think about your own ecclesiology and understanding of what constitutes sacrament, community, and worship.Published 11 months ago by Kelly Wasnich
Douglas Estes challenges our thinking through exploring the possibilities of virtual/online churches. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Dan & Karen
I found this book to be unrealistic in what could truly take place as we get deeper into virtual world churches. Read morePublished on March 21, 2013 by Thefabfive
I would recommend this book for any church leader thinking about the online world.
First, Estes has a solid grounding in the theology and history of the church, so he is... Read more
Estes, Douglas. SimChurch: Being the Church in theVirtual World. Zondervan, 2009, 256 pages.
Of all the books I have read in preparation for a class next month on Church... Read more
As an internet campus pastor with almost a year under my belt doing church online, I approached the book with a little bit of skepticism, but my skepticism was completely... Read morePublished on February 1, 2010 by Kyle Gilbert
Virtual Church is something I was not aware of until recently, but which got me thinking a lot as to the relevance of such a thing. Read morePublished on January 4, 2010 by Matthew Bailey
When I received a copy of this book from a friend of mine, I was not sure what to expect. I've never really spent much time considering what it means to be a church, or how the... Read morePublished on December 6, 2009 by J. Woods
I just finished reading SimChurch by Douglas Estes this morning. I am thrilled to say both what it did and didn't do. Read morePublished on November 10, 2009 by Mark R. Simonds