church technology

Is Online Community Biblical?

Written by Paul Steinbrueck

virtual communityMore and more churches are launching Internet campuses, aka virtual churches.  Meanwhile, people continue to debate whether Biblical community can really exist online.  Drew Goodmanson weighed in with his perspective on Thursday with an excellent article entitled Is Online Community real Community? Questions about the Virtual Church

In the article Drew cites 27 “one anothering” verses from scripture.  Looking at these verses it’s clear that while some “one anothering” can be done online, there are certainly some things that are not technologically possible to do in an online community and in those areas a virtual church simply can’t live up to the biblical standard.

Getting even more practical…

How would you feel about being a part of a church that couldn’t do any of the following:

  • Help you move
  • Watch your kids so you can have a date night with your spouse
  • Be at the funeral when you’ve lost a loved one
  • Bring you meals after you had a new baby
  • Take you out for coffee or a ballgame if your spouse walked out
  • Give you a hug when life is hard
  • Look you in the eye and realize there’s more going on in your life than you’re saying

How would you feel if you couldn’t do those things for others?

To me, that’s what being the church is all about… being there.

About the author

Paul Steinbrueck

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck.


  • The greatest issue is an online church can not fully give you the Body and Blood of Christ in Communion.

    Online Churches or groups are a great asset to any and every Church to catch people. Even the Disciples had to have a meeting time for fellowship and reflection.

  • There are an infinite number of reasons why anybody does anything. Virtual Community has become a reality in our society. Should one exist there permanently? Of course we would say “no” to that. Sometimes, the “virtual world” is a safe harbor for some who need temporary isolation. Sometimes it is an escape from the challenges of life. Just as Jesus went where the people were, we must also go where the people are. That includes the Online Environment. “Internet campuses, aka virtual churches” can be another of a very many opportunities for the Body of Christ to reach out to others. Just as television ministries should not be one’s only interaction with the church, the virtual church can healthily be a part of a person’s spiritual life, but should not be one’s sole spiritual interactivity.

  • The online community offers a vehicle to be utilized in ministry and evangelism in addition to not ‘instead of’ other methods of serving God/Yahweh and our fellow man. This ‘gospel’ shall be preached throughout the world’ and the internet provides a tool in fulfilling this commission.

  • The “Biblical” problem with the virtual church is probably the “fellowshipping.”
    If God is not the central focus then there will be schisms, as with the early churches.

    As far as fellowshipping is concerned, we should not forget to fellowship one with another. In the book of Acts we see that the people were in one place, with one mind and in one accord and signs followed.

    Fellowship is to; share companionship and the act of coming together sharing interests or the same cause. In this instance it is the love of God and His Word. True fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.
    1 John 1:3.

    Jesus himself went up to the Synagouge, Mt. 13:54. And other occasions, but he had community outside of the building. He did not confine Himself to “a” building. Jesus founded the New Testament Church, and our time of fellowship is our expression of this fellowship within ‘community.’

    The Online community is just one extension and expression of the Church.
    How far it is taken, and motives are a different story!
    Jesus also took the message of “The Kingdom” and “Repentance” everywhere He went, so If going virtual is where the Word can be found. It is a good thing.

    The things listed, such as; helping with a move, a hug, support etc., Should not exist ‘only’ in a building. We are the church, as True Believing-Christians. Community and family should make up those members who are of the body of Christ.

    @ Daniel, I agree that An Online Community can be an asset. Communion on the other hand, “The Body and Blood of Christ” can be administered “as often as ye do this! 1 Cor. 11:23-26.
    Jesus Ministry was public, and was not confined in His day. Everything we see virtually, as well as ‘in the Church’ which may be seen as contrary to the Word of God, comes about because of wrong focus, (Social) transformation instead of personal change.

  • Internet church? Hmmm. God tells us to go out into the “world and share His word. There is a definite place for online cxhurch as long as the planters of these online churches share the Good news that there are churches in each town that you can affiliate with to further your walk in the Lord.

    Online church can serve many shut ins that CAN’T go to church. My 90 year old father is a good case in point. He is a very good Christian that attends television church because he must be able to go to the bathroom immediately sometiomes. He can’t have that security out in a church down the street. He can’t always wait for someone to finish using the facility. He does, however, get fellowship from many church members that come to visit him. He also gets communion and fellowship daily from my wife and me because they live with us .

    I feel that we need to search our hearts and souls to find out God’s feelings on this matter. If we rush in and say it is or isn’t biblical or good, then we may commit the sin of judging wrongly as opposed to righteously.

    There is a place and a reason for all things under God. If an online ministry is NOT working for God, HE will make it known.

  • Pastor Thomas, thanks for your comment and for sharing the example of your father. I think that’s a perfect example how the off-line church functions in ways that are completely impossible for an online church. If your father’s only interaction with the body of Christ was watching a TV broadcast of a worship service, and he didn’t have the fellowship and communion with brothers and sisters in Christ who visit him, I think both he and those who visit would be missing out on some absolutely essential aspects of what it means to be the church.

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