Will internet church come to our shores?

internet churchIt is hard to believe but it is already happening. Where else but in the land of eternal innovation РUSA?  Read this report and let me know what you think of a church using this as an outreach to this internet-savvy generation; as a supplement(not substitute) to actual community.

The Internet has become the hottest place to build a church. A growing number of congregations are creating Internet offshoots that go far beyond streaming weekly services. The sites are fully interactive with a dedicated Internet pastor, live chat in an online “lobby,” Bible study, 1-on-1 prayer through IM and communion. (Viewers use their own bread and wine or juice.) On one site, viewers can click on a tab during worship to accept Christ as their Savior. Flamingo Road Church, based in Cooper City, Fla., twice conducted long-distance baptisms through the Internet. The move online is forcing Christians to re-examine their idea of church. It’s a complex discussion involving theology, tradition and cultural expectations of how Christians should worship and relate. Even developers of Internet church sites disagree over how far they should go. The sites share the same basic approach: rock-style worship music and a sermon recorded at the in-person weekend service that is quickly mixed with live or recorded greetings expressly for online viewers. The phenomenon is so new that no one has an exact count of interactive online campuses. The Leadership Network has found at least 40.

1) What uses do you see in this as the Christian population ages and the shut-ins increase in number?

2) Are there theological “trespasses” or is it all a matter of variable¬† “methodology/culture”?

3) Can there be true ministry and fellowhip without handshakes and physical presence?

4) Which church in Singapore have the resources and philosophy of ministry in place to make this internet “church plant” offshoot a reality in Singapore?

5) What if this technology could be combined to create an internet church hub with a house church network (in Singapore and beyond) to dispense with the need for expansive and expensive church buildings?

Hmm…all kinds of possibilities and questions running through my mind as I read the above report.

Raphael Samuel goes back to Bolivian missions

Lord let the bonds of love continue till kingdom come, for friendships are your gifts to us.

We had a nice lunch at the Bukit Gombak CDANS restuarant to say goodbye to Archdeacon Raphael Samuel, Anglican priest and missionary. My good friend and classmate is flying back to Santa Cruz, Bolivia.¬† Back to his missions field. He goes with his wife and son but the son will return later to study business in the Nanyang Technological University. He’s been here for two years and during that time he was ministering in Christchurch Anglican Church, a Tamil congregation near Kandang Kerbau Hospital. During the two years we have had several occasions to fellowship and support each other and to have those reunions with bible school classmates whenever Rev. Benedict Muthusamy, a Malaysian Presbyterian minister and moderator, or Dr TanYak Hwee, a seminary lecturer in Taiwan drops over. We have been meeting like that for over 20 years, since we all graduated in 1985 from Trinity Theological College. Goon Heo and myself are the ever-present core in this group. I wonder if other cohorts and classes have this kind of regular enduring get-togethers. So much strength and sharpening can be gained from such friendships.

Colourful Geylang

Geylang by night

In the night or by day, Geylang baffles logic and beauty. Its the only place in Singapore where URA(Urban Renewal Authority) have not stolen the soul with a heavy touch.

Everyone in Singapore has heard of Geylang. It is the red-light district. It is concentrated in the even-numbered streets from Lorong 8 to Lorong 18. When darkness falls the red lanterns light up and the ladies of the night stalk their prey. The horny and desperate males are the victims. The neon lights of scores of bars and hourly-rated hotels assault bystanders for attention. The sordid streets do not sleep. Brightly lit, they beckon the young and the retirees, of all races and nationalities.

Beyond this nucleus, are a hundred eating places, famous food hangouts where even the timid will venture, despite Geylang by daythe risk of a suspect reputation. Makansutra calls it paradise. From herbal tonics, and foods fabled as aphrosidiacs, to common street hawker fare, these restaurants open till the hours of morn. There are also the shopping emporiums, 24 hours convenience stores, and the fruit shops laden with durians that defy season.

Geylang in the daytime is just as colourful. Light industries litter the outskirts of the Viagra-laced streets. The taller and larger buildings are along the MRT tracks between Kallang and Aljunied. Scattered along the terraced shophouses are all kinds of small businesses from internet cafes, wholesale suppliers of timber and metal, electrical and electronic and furniture retailers. Banks (so similar to the red light area in their pecuniary intentions, as we have seen in the last year and a half) and even clinics position themselves there for a piece of the action.

Guilin building, GeylangThe irony is that side by side with the immoral are literally hundreds of civic and community groups, associations, churches, temples, and mosques. I take that back: maybe its not such an irony! Anyway, Geylang is a very religious place. The scents of incense, the colour green and red appear like a recurring theme. The church I grew up in and am now serving as the senior pastor is ten minutes away from where the red-light diestrict is. Its nearer to the HDB flats and the national library branch. Our next-door neighbours are private residential apartments, a condominium, a church and the Youth for Christ shared facility, and two famous temples.

The Urban Renewal Authority(URA) plan in 1992 had relocated many Chinese clan associations and community groups into the area. Many other religious organizations have followed suit because its difficult to find places elsewhere that is zoned for such purposes. According to the URA, places of worship serve the public whilst associations are allowed only private worship by members of the association as an incidental activity. On hearsay, there are about 30 to 40 Christian organizations/churches in Geylang.