TUESDAY TOGETHER | 7-20-2021
The Post-Pandemic Church in the Great Virtuality
By Charles (Chip) Hardwick
A LONGER PERSPECTIVE
- Consider the 500-year forest rather than the 2020-2021 trees.
- Phyllis Tickle – “The Great Emergence”
- The Church holds a grand rummage sale twice a millennium.
- What do you think about this?
- How have you understood this pre-pandemic? (Or, was everything hunky dory in the church before March 2020?)
- What do you think the church may have emerged from and what might it be emerging towards?
THE GREAT VIRTUALITY
- Tickle’s book was written in 2008.
- Before 3 important dynamics of current reality:
- “Social media’s centrality as a force shaping the way most Americans interact.”
- The wide availability of broadband – more of life online.
- The Pandemic
- Is social media a central point of interaction for you and your members? How has this shifted your tasks in ministry?
- We used to hear, “But people aren’t online,” this is no longer the case. Do we still wish it were so? Why or why not? How is this an opportunity and not a threat?
- “These changes lead me to coin the ‘Great Virtuality’ as the next season for the church (and society). More of our ministries will likely be online than those who just ‘want everything to go back to normal’ might hope.”
- How do you handle your own desire to “go back to normal?”
- How do you handle other’s desires to “go back to normal?”
- To what extent does exhaustion play into such a dynamic?
- Sherry Turkle’s book, “Alone Together”
- She writes that when technology is introduced, it often goes from “better than nothing” to “better than anything.”
- – Texting. First realized, stuck in a meeting and can’t call but can text. Eventually realize the preference for texting over calling.
- “Sending a message goes from being better than nothing to better than calling – or anything else, for that matter.”
- “The same dynamic applies to worship, which you probably already realize if your congregation has returned to holding services in person. When the pandemic started, we thought: ‘I sure wish I could go to church. But since I can’t, at least there is Facebook Live (Zoom, etc.). It’s not the same, but it’s better than nothing.’ By now we find ourselves thinking: ‘If I go back in person, I’ll have to get dressed. I’ll need to keep my kids engaged and fairly quiet. And I’ll probably run into that person I just can’t stand. Facebook Live is awesome!” Virtual worship, for many, has or will become better than all other options.”
- Do you consider this a real dynamic in your setting?
- “Models of the Church”– Avery Dulles: The church as herald and as the Body of Christ
- THE CHURCH AS VIRTUAL MESSENGER (Herald)
- “…the herald’s public square becomes the messenger’s social media landscape.”
- “This is, indeed, much more public than our churches ever were pre-pandemic.”
- How has being online well served the people in your church? How about those beyond the church?
- How do you talk about the advantages of digital and online content?
- THE CHURCH AS THE BODY OF CHRIST
- “…the intimate interdependencies we share as members of one body.”
- In person and face-to-face has an out-of-control nature to it.
- Turkle – texting does away with the messiness of actual conversation.
- Turkle: “…the ties we form through the internet are not, in the end, the ties that bind.”
- What do you think about the challenge to being the Body of Christ? What have you learned during this time?
- What challenges present themselves with this right now?
QUESTIONS THIS PROMPTS
- Is the right technology available?
- What kind of training do our leaders need?
- With whom could you partner?
- What is the best way to measure engagement?
- What kind of facilities do we need?
- How can we care for and grow alongside each other?
- How are you answering/not answering these questions?
- Which question gives you the most pause?