News headlines of Sunday services crashing the internet (and Dr Sharon Stone having prophesied last November: “There is going to be a church-planting movement that is virtual and viral in the earth; not taking the place of the Church at all”) hardly came as a surprise to Dr Pete Philips, Head of Digital Theology at Premier Christianity.
In Coronavirus: What is God up to? (published on 27th May) this researcher explains with the help of a couple of graphs, how the latest surveys and statistics support claims that God is doing something special in the global Church right now.
For ease of reading, my highlit parts of the images are:
“The digital Church is enabling and extending the local church. Tim Hutchings’ research (Creating Online Church, 2017) showed that rather than decrease the number of people attending local expressions of Church, digital Church provides a safe place for people to see what Church is about – a kind of shop window for the Church.’
People are turning to God
‘In a time of national crisis, it is no wonder that people turn to God. We’re hearing of people asking Siri how to be saved. Covid-19 survivors are encountering God at death’s door. The UK Blessing was itself a kind of transmission of God’s grace to the millions who watched.
‘The Church in the UK seems to be going deeper into God. Praying more, reading the Bible more, doing community more (has your church set up Zoom coffee mornings yet?). Of course, this does not factor in the brilliant work being done by the Church which appears nowhere near a digital screen or in online statistics (community care, food banks etc).
‘What’s more, so much of what we’re seeing here is also happening worldwide… ‘
Dr Philips concludes, ‘So many people across the globe have encountered God online during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Church has gone through a mini-revolution in the last few weeks and many weary workers bear the wounds of sore eyes, headaches and frustration about how tech needs to be wrestled into the service of the church. But let’s not forget that the digital supports the local, offers a safe place for people to see what we get up to in our closed church buildings. When we get back to celebrating communion, hugging our congregations and sharing the peace, let’s also do the digital. Let’s have the best of both worlds where all might meet with the living God.’
SO thank you Lord for all that You are doing in this world – open our eyes to see…