Sunday, December 05, 2010

On-Line Communion and Cyber Church Just A Small Step Away

My friend John Armstrong wrote a blog post yesterday about a cyber church doing worship services via Facebook.  He also asks, quite seriously, about communion and baptism:

I also wonder how the church does communion and baptism? Do you serve wine and bread to yourself and do you baptize yourself?
Well, actually, I read an article a few months ago posted by a conservative Christian on his blog - one of the most widely read Christian sites on the net - about just such a church.  It did the Lord's Supper on-line.  People in that church were on-line at the same time and connected to the church's streaming video service, and served communion to themselves.  The blogger and his commenting readers were aghast at the idea.  What is this world coming to?  What an utter lack of regard for the Lord Jesus and his ordinance of communion!  What kind of blasphemous wackos could be attending such a church?

It's not surprising to me at all.  In fact, I think it is only a small step away from how most of us are used to doing church already.  It's a relatively small stride from the giant leap we've already made from how the New Testament describes the Lord's Table.  The NT describes the Lord's Supper as a meal, not something smaller than a snack.  It was in the context of a feast.  There was enough food to fill people and enough wine to make some drunk.  It was eaten right after this feast meal.  Bread was broken amongst them, as people together.  Most of us today are used to a time of somber introspection, as opposed to a feast.  We have fingernail sized stale wafers, often getting stuck in the molars, and a half thimble of grape juice, not real wine.  Not enough for a meal, and not even with a meal.  Bread for many of us is already broken in some factory somewhere, and the cup is also pre-divided into small portions.  We sit in silence and have no interaction with the others around us, contrary to what is done in a feast.  Each of us partakes alone, even though we might be in the presence of those we are not interacting with.  There is little, if any, celebration in "celebrating" the Lord's Supper.

I think the problem with the idea of having communion on-line is not that we've suddenly radically changed the way we view the Lord's Supper.  There was something wrong all along, so that in going cyber with it, no ill affects have been recognized.  The same would be true of doing cyber church itself.


  1. I completely agree with you on this. Cyber-gatherings, mega-humoungous-cathedral churches, or simply sitting in a pew with 75 people to hear one-way communication live with no mutual, brotherly relationship with the saints or the one you call "your pastor" is all in the same modus-operandi. There is no spiritual reproductive result. It's all for warm feelings of "being blessed".

    If cells are not reproducing, they are dying. The same is true with the body of Christ. It designed and constructed as a spiritual organic body. Each part must reproduce into others. That's why one-way communication and spectating and never giving out personal expression of truth to build up saints around you is so corrupt.

    It's all what I refer to as institutionalized faith. It's a different kind of faith than what the Bible talks about. It's an idol, a false substitute for God's design. Just as the Mormons use the same words we do with completely different meanings, institutionalized evangelicalism is in contradiction to God's Word. Same words, corrupt meanings.

  2. To me, this isn't all that surprising. We've had TV preachers for fifty years and online downloads of sermons more recently. In fact, forums and blogs (like this one) have replaced in-person Bible studies for most people. It's sad and will probably make things worse for the Christian community. But maybe the Facebook generation doesn't even expect to have to ever interact non-virtually.