House Church Talk - possibility of chat

David Anderson david at
Tue Sep 30 15:49:08 EDT 2003

      Hi all,

Lemme know if you would like to chat once or twice a week. Sunday nights, 
at first. As soon as 20 or so respond, I'll get it going, provided I can 
find a facilitator. Please reply via private email if you want to be 
contacted when chat commences. Thanks.

      David Anderson

The Cyberchurch Is Coming by George Barna
April 20, 1998

(Ventura, CA) - Fifteen years from now you may tell your grandchildren 
that back in the old days, when people wanted a religious experience they 
attended a church for that purpose. Chances are good that your 
grandchildren will be shocked by such a revelation.

A recent survey of American teenagers by the Barna Research Group of 
Ventura, California, underscores the increasing use of the Internet for 
religious purposes among young people. Currently, 4% use the Internet for 
religious or spiritual experiences. Although that represents a modest 
gain from a year earlier, the most revealing insight concerned their 
expectations for the future. One out of six teens (16%) said that within 
the next five years they expect to use the Internet as a substitute for 
their current church-based religious experience. Significantly, this 
notion was most common among teenagers who currently attend church 
regularly. African-American teens were four times more likely than white 
teens to expect to rely on the Internet for their future religious 
experience (31% vs. 8%, respectively).

If that seems outrageous, consider the fact that a recent survey by Barna 
Research among adults shows that 12% of the adult population is already 
using the Internet for religious purposes. The most common of those 
purposes is to interact with others via chat rooms or e-mail about 
religious ideas, beliefs or experiences. That represents about 25 million 
adults who rely upon the Internet for religious expression each month.

Not surprisingly, there is a clear generational bias in cyberfaith. 
Younger adults are more likely to turn to the Net for religion. Overall, 
17% of Baby Busters (ages 18 to 32) use the Net this way, compared to 11% 
of Boomers (ages 33 to 51), 8% of Builders (ages 52 to 70) and 4% of 
Seniors (71 or older). An unexpected outcome was finding non-white adults 
being 60% more likely to use the Internet for faith matters than white 
adults (16% versus 10%, respectively). Also, non-Christians are nearly as 
likely as Christians to seek spiritual input through the Net (10% versus 


George Barna, president of the company conducting the surveys, explained 
some of the findings. "Our research indicates that by 2010 we will 
probably have 10% to 20% of the population relying primarily or 
exclusively upon the Internet for its religious input. Those people will 
never set foot on a church campus because their religious and spiritual 
needs will be met through other means - including the Internet. Whether 
or not the cyberchurch is a "true" church may not be pressing an issue as 
what current church leaders will do about the inevitable gravitation of 
tens of millions of people away from the existing church and how they can 
help to shape this emerging church form.

"The discomfort of today's church leaders with the cyberchurch is not 
surprising. When Willow Creek Community Church popularized the "seeker 
church" format in the late 70s and early 80s, the mainstream of the 
church community rejected the approach as an invalid and non-viable form 
of church, an inauthentic expression of biblical faith. The cyberchurch 
will receive the same treatment from today's church leaders."

Barna also pointed out that the proportion of young people currently 
using the Internet for faith purposes is underestimated. "A large 
proportion of teenagers use the Net for conversation with others. A 
substantial number of cyberchatters engage in dialogue related to faith, 
spirituality, religion, meaning and truth - the very types of 
conversations that are often initiated or fostered by churches. Teens do 
not think of those conversations as religious expression, but the sense 
of community and the spiritual beliefs fostered by such dialogue on 
spiritual matters is identical to what the traditional church seeks to 
create within its congregation."   ....

The Future Church

In Barna's newly-released book (The Second Coming of the Church, Word 
Publishing) various structures and models of the future church are 
described. "This new research supports our contention that the structure 
of the American church is already undergoing radical change. If you add 
up the proportion of people who will call the cyberchurch their "church 
home", those who will align with an independent house church and 
individuals who will be steadfastly unchurched, within the next 15 years 
a majority of Americans will be completely isolated from the traditional 
church format.

Continued on the Barna Research site. If you respond to this post, quote 
only what is needful. Thanks.

House Church Talk is sponsored by the House Church Network.

House Church Talk has been renamed. These discussions, via the web, now occur at the Radically Christian Cafe.