Response 1: Kevin Graunke
This question is right at the leading edge of what many churches, not just our own, are confronting in today’s wireless, instant-message world. How do we balance the value of connecting and sharing online with the invaluable blessing that comes from gathering together in person to exchange spiritual ideas and build on common goals?
I love this statement from Mary Baker Eddy in The First Church of Christ, Scientist and Miscellany, because it’s so relevant here: Commenting on “the pursuit of modern material inventions,” she said, “Oh, we cannot oppose them. They all tend to newer, finer, more etherealized ways of living….They light the way to the Church of Christ.” (p. 345).
Today’s digital communications—websites, blogs, social media, etc.,—have incredible potential to “light the way to the Church of Christ” rather than competing with it or diverting us from it (The First Church of Christ, Scientist and Miscellany, p. 345). As we use the tools effectively, with the goal of “preach the gospel to every creature,” (Mark 16:15) we won’t stop coming together. Instead, I’ve found they can help kindle a spirit of Christian fellowship that naturally draws us together. Letting our light shine virtually invites sharing that light in person.
In my own state, we’ve just launched a new website: http://christiansciencewisconsin.com. Its purpose is “…to share the healing message of Christian Science and connect Wisconsin Christian Science churches with each other and their local communities.” In the few months the site has been active, it has already helped our branch churches communicate more effectively with the public as well as with fellow church members. A few examples:
- Providing a calendar of events including lectures, Reading Room open houses, and many other special activities like hymn sings.It uses Google Maps to pinpoint locations.
- Listing every branch church and society in the state with photos, times of services, and maps.
- Linking visitors with other online resources for spiritual study and enrichment, including those on The Mother Church’s Website.
This concept, to me, seems so in line with what Jesus said: “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32, New International Version). Communicating with the whole world via the Internet is an amazing way to lift up the healing activity of the Christ. It’s helping bring our global village together to talk, worship, pray, and sing in one another’s company, heart to heart and face-to-face.
Response 2: Lindsey Biggs
It’s important to think about our motives when considering what the right outreach activity is for our church, including Internet activity. Church supports and blesses our communities. If sharing the message of Truth and Love online is the right way to aid this mission for a branch church, embracing people in the community who wouldn’t otherwise be able to join, then it is “blessed of our Father, and it does not return unto us void” (Science and Health, p. 2).
No one can miss the healing message of Truth and Love because they are not in the same physical location. “The ‘still, small voice’ of scientific thought reaches over continent and ocean to the globe's remotest bound” (Science and Health, p. 559). When church members actively love one another, and Love governs the preparations and activity of the service or lecture, then the love they are expressing will be felt by those who are joining online. The same Love that has impelled the sharing of this activity is bringing together those who are in need and supplying their hearts with the pure perception of divine, ever-present Love. The voice of Truth is speaking to everyone in just the right way, and it transforms those who are listening in person and online.
There is no limitation that can get in the way of anyone hearing the message of Truth. There are no limits of time, space, or distance; there is no imposition of technical glitches or feeling inadequate to understand new technology. Our love of Truth and oneness with the Holy Spirit is what impels us to share, reach out, love our neighbor, and heal, and Love supplies just the right way to do this. Nothing can stand in the way of Love being fully expressed and manifested because “Love is impartial and universal in its adaptation and bestowals” (Science and Health, p. 13)