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    Christian Churches are Reaching Less Than One Percent of the ‘Virtual World’

    Christian Churches are Reaching Less Than One Percent of the ‘Virtual World’

    The Christian church is engaging far less than 1 percent of the 70 million people who are active in the virtual world. This means the virtual world is by far the largest unreached people group on planet Earth.  At least that's the statistic thrown around by one pastor in an article published by the Christian Post.

    Douglas Estes, a pastor from San Jose, Calif., has no vested interest in virtual or internet churches – a relatively new phenomenon – but given the large "unreached" population on the internet, he says he has a desire to see healthy churches proliferate "regardless of context."

    Although he leads a brick and mortar church (Berryessa Valley Church), Estes defends virtual churches against critics in his newly released book, SimChurch: Being the Church in the Virtual World, maintaining that they are real churches with real people.

    He summed up his argument in a recent post on Christianity Today's Out of Ur blog: "People are led to believe that members of online churches all connect to their video-game church as anonymous zombies in a Tron-like world. Supposedly these virtual (fake) Christians never really know each other, it’s all a facade, and that this is the sum and total of a virtual church.

    "The real truth is that every virtual church I’ve ever attended has flesh-and-blood people in virtual (real!) community with other flesh-and-blood people whose primary meeting place is in synthetic space."

    You can read more here.


    What do you think?  Do you think this statistic is accurate?  And, in your opinion, is 'virtual church' a viable option for meeting in person?



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    1. Pastor Matt on Wed, November 04, 2009

      70m people is a massive unreached people group - though I would argue it is way bigger than that now - that statistic sounds old.

      Massive opportunity to reach people that before could never have been reached.  I would eventually like to split my paid ministry time equally between a non-virtual and virtual churches (or somehow combined).

    2. Jeff Graham on Wed, November 04, 2009

      I’m confused, doesn’t China have like a billion unreached people (how’s that for pulling a stat out of thin air!)? In my experience 1,000,000,000 > 70,000,000! Also, most of those 70 mil also live in the real world (ie, not boarded up in tin foil lined houses with supercomputers), so there is the potential that they are being reached outside of the virtual world. I do agree that we need to do a better job of reaching this group of people, but I think the stats are a little off.

      I think the article summed it up well when it said “Notably, Estes doesn’t believe virtual churches will or should replace real-world churches. Both accomplish ministry objectives that the other cannot. But he hopes that in the future, real-world churches will adopt more virtual elements and virtual churches will create real-world ministry teams to reach people in the real world and in the virtual world.”

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