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Perry Noble, NewSpring Church Kill Internet Campus

Written by Paul Steinbrueck

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More and more churches are starting Internet campuses every month.  Recent growth has been exponential.

NewSpring Church in Anderson, SC, which is led by senior pastor Perry Noble, was among the first churches in the US to launch a distinct Internet campus.  Nick Charalambous was given responsibility as the campus’s web pastor.

But earlier this month, NewSpring pulled the plug and ended its 18 month old online campus.

Why did they do it and where are they going from here?

NewSpring will continue to stream video of their services online “to serve attenders of our physical campuses who cannot make it to church and to offer an extra teaching resource to the broader movement of the gospel in the world” but they are no longer operating their online presence as a distinct campus.

Nick wrote on his blog:

Generally, I began as a bold champion and ended as one who was skeptical of online church in its long-term impact on the larger church and our gospel mission to create disciples of all nations, giving all glory to God. I do still passionately believe that physical churches should do all they can to leverage themselves online.

Nick blogged extensively over the course of the last month, sharing his observations about the experience of being NewSpring’s web pastor and sharing his thoughts about online church in general in a 3 part series called Web Church Challenges and a 4 part series of Web Church Reflections.  Many of the pros and cons Nick described were things we discussed here in our 9 part series about online church a few months ago.  If online church is something you’re interested in, it’s worth reading all 7 posts.

In his posts, he questioned the necessity of online churches.

Believers faced persecution and potential death to gather physically, even though their faith taught them that they belonged to one God in the spirit “over all, through all and in all.”… If the early church believed so powerfully in the primacy of physically planting the gospel, what circumstances are so pressing that they give us the right to seek an alternative method for building the church today?

He also wrote about the potential for online churches to undermine the local church.

I see a disturbing trend of online church attenders, if they are not also connected to local churches, behaving like “super-consumers” chasing the best teaching or the best worship or the convenience of the web church every week. Few of these people are “churchless” in any true sense of the word. They’ve decided their local churches simply aren’t good enough.

Ultimately, NewSpring found that their online campus was not contributing to their overall vision of creating a vibrant community of Christ-followers.  In fact, it may have been undermining it.

I really appreciate the way NewSpring boldly experimented with their online campus, were honest in their assessment of it, and just as bold in terminating it when they found it wasn’t in line with their mission.  I also appreciate the fact that Nick was honest with his thoughts about online church but did not bash those churches who continue to experiment with this new way of doing church.

What do you think?

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    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.

    15 Comments

    • Thanks for the positive and gracious way you drew the attention of your readers to this. I'll be interested to see the response.

    • The problem with this is the lack of spiritual leadership to actually start something like this. Perry Noble and this new age of anti-church purpose pastors just make up new ways to attempt to 'market' Christianity. Biblically, all that is necessary for spreading the Gospel is to preach the whole of the Bible in season and out with no gimmicks. Noble's time will end just as the Willow Creek church-lite disaster will end. God's people will prevail.

    • Wow…I'm also skeptical of an online campus…but good for them for trying something for the sake of the Gospel, and good for them for their honest assessment when it didn't work.

    • Perry, I think your online services are the best. Your messages are always powerful. I use to be able to drive to church. One day my room mates son in law needed to use my car to get something. Bad choice for me. Jeff Maggies, son in law totaled my car in a matter of minutes. So since Jeff doesn't have the money to fix the car, or help in any matter, now I have to walk where ever I am going.

      I tried to walk it from my home. Unfortunately, it is a 9.5 mile hike from my house. I only could walk 8.0 miles. I didn't think I was ever going to make it home. I walked (16) miles today. When I got home, I was sick and exhusted. I went to your web site and this is when I was able to watch you (live). This is a true blessing Perry. Please don't give this online service up. You might not realize how many folks you really touch.

      With Kind Regards:

      Christine Lahser

      • I apprechiate your fellings on my letter to Perry Noble. I realize that due to some on line services they might not be what some folks are looking for. How ever Perry always gives a most powerful sermon. It is up to the individual wheather they want to use it in there daily life or not. For me it was a blessing from on high. When you don't have wheels and no one to take you where you need to go; and you don't have the money for a cab.; then walking is the next best thing. Some times you realize quite quickly what you can do and what you can't do.