Acts 14 and Online Ministry

Acts 14:21,22,23

21 When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch,

22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.

23 And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

There’s little question that online ministry is popular and prolific.  There are some who would question its ability, communicability, and sustainability.

 

Ability Acts 14:21:  If the manner by which “disciples are made,” is rooted in preaching the gospel, then I think there is little doubt that we are “able to” effectively communicate the message of the gospel online.  

Question:  Is the “message” of the gospel alone sufficient to make a disciple?

 

Communicability – Acts 14:22:  The counsel necessary to strengthen, encourage, and inform, can be communicated in electronic form.  The sheer abundance of online data related to these three fields would substantiate that it is, at least, communicable. 

Question:  Does the absence of online “accountability” hinder the strengthening, encouraging, and informing of new disciples?

 

Sustainability – Acts 14:23:  The appointment of Elders in “every church” was crucial in sustaining the newly made disciples.  These new disciples constituted new church plants.  This is where I see online ministry as nearly impossible.  It is practically unwise and perhaps biblically imprudent to appoint an Overseer/Bishop/Elder electronically. Further, in my opinion, an Overseer/Bishop/Elder can not effectively sustain a flock or local group of believers via electronic media.

Question:  Is it biblically feasible to have online church leaders emerge from within online communities? 

 

For related posts, see:

E-phesians 4:11, E-ministry for E-quipping The Church Through Social Media?

Virtual Community & Virtual Discipleship: Possible?

Does the ‘Person of Peace’ concept work online?

 

                                                            

0 thoughts on “Acts 14 and Online Ministry

  1. Excellent questions, Miguel.

    ‘Is the “message” of the gospel alone sufficient to make a disciple?’ – Yes, but it helps enormously if there are real people physically present to live and model the gospel. But fundamentally yes. There must be plenty of believers out there for whom reading the Bible was the main source of information, or even the only source.

    ‘Does the absence of online “accountability” hinder the strengthening, encouraging, and informing of new disciples?’ – I think the word ‘accountability’ is quite tricky. If it means hierarchical, top down authority and measuring progress I’m not sure it’s a good thing. That also means we know how to measure ‘progress’. If it means wisdom, encouragement, guidance and answering questions then I’d say people can grow by purely electronic contact. I’ve seen this work well in online discussion groups. And I think people like Tony and Felicity Dale, Alan Hirsch, Frank Viola, Neil Cole and many others are helpful in this way. You too, Miguel 🙂

    ‘Is it biblically feasible to have online church leaders emerge from within online communities?’ – Yes, I think this is feasible too. But perhaps very difficult and not something I’d recommend. I’d have to say that church is about community and that always works best when we meet directly face-to-face. I suppose it’s possible to greet one another with a kiss electronically xx – but it’s far from giving a brother or sister a warm, family-style hug.

    So yes, possible for all three to be e-based, I’d say. But oh what a poor comparison with the warmth of human presence. It’s so enriching to be dealing with people face-to-face. I’d hate to do without that!

    In summary, 1 and 2 possible but I’d prefer not. 3? Very, very difficult and likely to fail.

  2. Laurie Norris says:

    I think as you have pointed out that we are

    1. Able to
    2. Communicate

    Life in the Spirit, however, is not an abstract. We have to live it, otherwise, it’s just incredible stories and sound philosophy. To live it we have to move out from behind our screens and devices. I would suggest that anyone who has begun to see some truth, get involved. Even if it’s just visiting a sick friend, helping a neighbor, forgiving a wrong, or warming a pew on a Sunday morning. It can grow from there.

  3. David Woods says:

    God doesn’t usually communicate electronically.

    This question seems to revolve around relationships between people, but God is almost completely left out of the question. Yes, people can carry on online relationships, and those relationships can be whatever those people allow it to be, but the real question is….Have they been introduced to God or haven’t they? If so, the computer is irrelevant. God can communicate with them any way He wants.

    This isn’t an AA meeting where we have to convince each other that I’m okay and you’re okay, and we have to chart each other’s progress in hopes of being “successful”. People can preach to, encourage, strengthen, and communicate with each other online or in person, but only a true, personal relationship with a living Father God will make it sustainable.

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