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Monday
Oct012012

E-Church: Internet Church Attendance Rising as Regular Church Attendance Declining?

ARTICLE BY SHAWNA BROWN/EEW MAGAZINE CONTRIBUTING EDITOR

In a day and age where statistics show churches across the nation are experiencing attendance declines, of the more than 1.5 billion people in the world that have personal computers, millions are logging onto the Internet and getting their word from their favorite preachers and Bible teachers.

Whether on Twitter, Facebook, or through Internet Church, Christians across the nation are choosing e-pastors like Bishop T.D. Jakes to follow online to receive positive and uplifting messages like this: “God has a divine plan for your life. However, Jesus needs you to step out of the boat so that you may progress toward your greater purpose.” That short message and other ones like it are the sort of encouragements Jakes’ 600,000+ followers (and the masses that don’t follow on Twitter) are flocking to e-church, at tdjakes.org, to hear.

Every week, anyone with an Internet connection can “sit in” on his live service at The Potter's House in Dallas and experience the mega preacher’s real-time full-length sermons on Sunday at 9:00 am CST.

But Jakes isn’t the only one attracting Christians and non-Christians to e-church and Twitter.

Joyce Meyer’s million plus Twitter followers are daily empowered through the inspirational quotes she tweets out. Among her most loyal supporters is “good girl gone bad” pop star Rihanna, who shares Meyer’s tweets faithfully, as well as Instagram photos of the Bible Teacher’s devotionals.

Meyer’s “Enjoying Everyday Life” broadcasts are viewed by millions daily and droves of people head out to her nationwide women’s conferences. Last month, at Meyer’s “Love Life” conference in St. Louis, nearly 5,000 souls were saved in one night.

Gone are the days when geographical location constituted confinement to a specific ministry, demanded exclusive membership at a particular local assembly, or mandated affiliation with a certain group.

In a 2007 study, Lifeway Research determined that 70% of young Protestant adults between the ages of 18–22 had stopped attending church regularly. But many of them today can be found online, clicking their way through to virtual church.

Though criticized for its lack of physical human connection, the Internet church trend shows no signs of stopping.

It appeals to those that wish to reach beyond the borders of their hometown and connect with leaders abroad who inspire, empower, and minister to their needs more effectively.

What are your thoughts on Internet church? Is this a good or bad trend? Do you have a favorite “online pastor?”

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Reader Comments (14)

I don't think there is any substitute for regular church attendance but I have serveral pastors I watch online. I find them on streamingfaith.com. As a college student this is especially helpful to me when I am away at school and can't make it to my home church.

October 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnasia

I do both. I don't think the internet can replace church. Getting more of the word is a good thing but we shouldn't fail to assemble like the bible says.

October 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFelicia Greene

I, too, don't think it should replace regular church attendance, but it can be a great addition to the word received at your own church. Also, this is a good ministry idea for those seeking a good, stable church home, and also for those who have to work and are unable to attend church services. So, I definitely don't knock their efforts. They are striving to reach the world in every way possible (the real ones that is).

October 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLady

Good article. I WISH this would have been the norm about 10 year ago. I was just out of college and had to work every weekend. I wanted to have the experience but couldn't make it to church. This is a blessing to have access and FREE access at that! I hope will always stay that way because it is needed.

October 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShaquan

I think this is a postive thing, not that you can gain fellowship experience by just hearing/watching the word. but, this certainly goes back to my great great grandmother days, when i use to watch her watching tbn ALL day, that never stopped her from going to Sunday morning worship service tho. When i moved from southern cal to northern cal. my family had no church home here, so i had to resort to watching the word on television, and enjoying the light for my good ol gospel music, and i was probably the most spiritual during THIS time. As long as a person is getting and applying the word, im not mad at them. however when i use to hear my cuzin say she had watched church online vs going to actual service, im like, no dont try and supplement, it isn't the same. its one thing to be lazy and just dont want to go, but, if you have absolute reason. then i understand. my mom doesn't go to church at all. and in the last 20 years, has only been once, to a mothers day service at her mother in laws church, so, if my mother would watch some joyce, joel, or bishop td. then i would be so happy that she is just getting the word in some shape form or fashion. alot of people shun away from the church, reasoning, to many hypocrites, as i hear them say, or to much drama/mess in the church

October 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTiana Renee

I just got into a heated discussion with my aunt over this. I don't see what's the problem with Internet church as a main church. If you're getting the word then why does it matter? I am saved but haven't been to church since Easter and have no plan to go b/c I view TD Jakes as my pastor. I live in Brooklyn and I am nowhere near Dallas and I get fed. I also watch on Wednesday for Bible Study too. So I don't agree with that at all that you have to got to a physical building to be receiving what you need for your soul. I don't see the problem .

October 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

@Rebecca: The Bible tells us to not forsake the assembling of ourselves with other believers. This is why internet church shouldn't replace actual church, assembling.

October 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLady

I feel like I do assemble with other believers. I jsut don't think I have to physically be in the same location to "touch and agree". @Lady

October 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

@Rebecca: I understand, but our feelings aren't what count; the Word does. Watching it on tv, you "see" other believers but can't assemble with them, gain encouragement and guidance from them, because you don't know them, aren't interactive with them.

However, I don't feel like getting into a sermon. To each his own beliefs. Blessed day.

October 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLady

We all need a spiritual covering/pastor. The Internet cannot accomplish that.

October 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLEAH

I believe that overall internet church is a good thing, however, I feel that there are a few drawbacks to it. Watching church on TV or on the internet can be great for someone who cannot physically get to a church or simply wants to use it in addition to what they're getting from their physical church. Watching church on TV or on the internet and completely forsaking the brick and mortar church, in my mind, alienates a lot of the things the bible teaches about fellowship and assembly. There are quite a few things I learned about life and God from listening to Joyce Meyer's sermons, but nothing she has said can beat having my mentor from church hold me while she was encouraging me with God's word when I was suffering from a miscarriage. I think that human "touch" is what it's all about. I seriously doubt that God put so many people on this earth so that we can all be so emotionally and spiritually (and now physically) detached from one another, which I think is one of the downfalls of the internet and technology, period. We all have our individual struggles and in the end we are responsible for ourselves, but we are also to called to be a working part of the Body while we are here and there's so much more that you can do when you're physically a part of the church.

October 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTara

@ LEAH

We need Christ. Pastors are just a way of developing a relationship with Christ, not The Way. Our loyalty is to God, not to a pastor.

October 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterGod's Property

I haven't been to church in months but I do watch Bishop Jakes on the Internet. I don't feel guilty or convicted about that at all. In fact I get a better word watching him than I do at my local church anyway. I will go back at some point like Christmas or something but there's just no rush for me.

October 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTeralyn "Jazzy" Parker

Well i understand everyone saying its good when your not able to get to church physically, but one thing remains; like lady said we should not forsake the assemby of the believers. its the word! and to rebecca your not assembled through internet or tv. you see the word also tells us that we must know them that labors among us, Do you know td jakes or joyce myers or joel olsteen? i mean do you know them personally? so how do you know they live what they preach? im not knocking anyone that watches for a daily word when they cant make church orjust something they watch for research. just be careful of who you follow. theres wolves in sheeps clothing. the devil goes to church to. remember? he use to be an angel in heaven. Dont be decieved for God is not mocked. e-church CAN NOT!!!!!!!!! replaced church only the true church of God shall rise. i love you all God bless. :-)

October 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTiffani

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