Christian Fellowship is Booming; Zooming

Last Easter, in China, “Pastor Chen broke the bread and held the wine as he gave his blessings, following the Good Friday Holy Communion tradition that has been celebrated by Christians around the world for centuries – except there was no one to distribute the bread and wine to.”

That was the lead in an article in South China Morning Post titled: Underground Christians in China use faith and tech to reach out to followers at Easter amid Covid-19 crisis.

“In China, church groups have turned to WeChat and Zoom for their services since late January after religious gatherings were banned as part of the strict social distancing rules imposed to contain the virus,” the article continued. “The internet has provided a space for Christian communities to grow their congregations in a country where the government has intensified religious persecution and imposed stricter rules for managing churches.”

One pastor has not “not acquired a license from the government to live-stream or release records of its services, such as a few big state-approved churches in Shanghai and Beijing have done. It therefore relies on sending its congregation internet links to streamed services from other official churches and Bible schools in China.”

The pastor “also said there could be problems as believers became increasingly reliant on online materials that had been shared by sources from around the world. There had been cases in which believers “wrongly interpreted” certain concepts or became misled by cults that had elements of Christianity. And it could be more challenging for some elderly churchgoers to rely on a mobile device for access to church life than it was for younger people, Li said.”

Zoom is not the only way churches are able to deliver sermons to their congregations. Both FaceBook and YouTube are, and have been used, to reach out through the internet.

In Cleveland, Pastor Alistair Begg of Parkside Church has seen an increasing number of people from through America and from other countries tune in to his Sunday services posted on YouTube. Yesterday’s morning service can be viewed on YouTube here: Abner–The King Maker.

For the last couple of years Holy Trinity Christian Church in Alpharetta, GA, USA, has posted its Wednesday Noon Bible Study online live on FaceBook.

Another Georgia church, Calvary Chapel of Alpharetta, posts its Sunday service on YouTube. Yesterday’s service is here: Appearances. Pastor Blake also uses Zoom, having held a “Mens Breakfast” on Sunday afternoon.

These three methods are examples of ways in which churches are able to fellowship online. Each seems to have its on set of advantages and disadvantages. Both FaceBook and YouTube have a section that allows those who “tune in” to make comments, or not, as they please. These two methods seem to be well suited to Sermons where a large number of people will watch. Zoom is more interactive. As I understand it, each participant is seen in a small window within the larger browser window. This seems very well suited to small discussion groups, such as Bible Studies and small-group fellowships.

There are other ways for Pastors to get their sermons to their members. And they don’t involve the internet. L-RD willin’ that will be my next post.

L-RD Bless, Keep, Shine. . .

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