published online by the Alban Institute
It’s no longer news that the Internet has ushered in a digital revolution, reshaping everything from the business landscape to social relationships to personal habits. Our world today is profoundly new. And in these transformations, nothing is sacred. Just as newspapers find themselves spiraling downward and corporations scramble to find an authentic online presence, so religious congregations are seriously impacted by the expansion of digital life. Yes, congregations have a unique purpose and mission, existing for divine purposes that can’t be quantified or confined, but in the human realm, in the material world where the congregation plants its feet on the ground, change is sprouting up through the floorboards. These developments are challenging congregations to consider what it means to be a geographically rooted, brick-and-mortar congregation in a world of virtual cathedrals and online prayer groups, where intimate spiritual connection is possible at any time of day or night.
To make sense of how technology and church intersect, it’s important to understand how the newest iterations of the Internet—collectively known as “Web 2.0”—dramatically expand our ability to connect with one another online. This new generation of Internet tools—including blogs, wikis, social networks, and video- and photo-sharing sites—has accelerated and enriched the online interaction first seen on e-mail listservs, discussion boards, and in chat rooms.
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