Church in the Metaverse: Are You Ready?
The new normal has dawned upon us, with many changes and trends emerging. Throughout our ordeal of the past two years, the church has adapted and evolved – from shutting down physical services, to going fully online, to going hybrid, and now coming back physically. Meanwhile, a new form of church has emerged: the church in the metaverse.
What exactly is a church in the metaverse?
You may have heard the terms “metaverse” and “metachurch” recently, but what exactly is it? Broadly speaking, a church in the metaverse is a fully online church set in a virtual world. Every user is represented by an avatar inside this immersive universe; a virtual reality platform where one can socialise, work and play.
It’s no surprise then that churches exist in the metaverse. A quick search online shows how life-like they are, from holding large Sunday worship to small groups, prayer meetings, Bible studies, youth services, and even baptisms and the chance to serve or volunteer.
Is there anything wrong with attending a virtual church?
For many, the metaverse is an exciting and effective platform to spread the Gospel, as it’s able to reach more people and transcend borders. It’s also believed to be a safer and more welcoming environment, as people are more willing to “walk into a church”, ask deep questions or open up about their lives compared to in reality.
However, another school of thought is that while the technology has potential to win people to Christ and create a community of believers, a virtual experience cannot fully replace in-person community. There are concerns regarding accountability, data privacy, anonymity and how an online persona can make us more hostile or have our messages easily misunderstood.
Conclusion: being Christ online and offline
Like money, technology is neutral – neither good nor bad – and is always a means to an end, never an end in itself. A new technology can come along, whether it’s the radio, television, internet, and now social media and virtual reality. But much has stayed the same, such as the ancient problem of communicating, relating and loving one another.
As Dennis Moles wrote in the Discovery Series “Being Jesus Online”: “Every time a new technology comes along… followers of Jesus have been forced to think about how best to interact with and use those advances… Communication is still difficult. Relationships still take work. And followers of Jesus still have a mission to share God’s love, mercy, and grace wherever they go – even online.”
At this point, the church in the metaverse may not yet fully replace the traditional church. But whether or not it does, Jesus still wants to be the God of all areas of our lives, including how we interact in the digital realm. By adopting His mindset, we can become more like Him by displaying qualities of truthfulness, wisdom, gentleness, and love in all our online interactions.
Check out the Discovery Series ‘Being Jesus Online: Biblical Wisdom for a Wired World’.
About the Author
Wan Phing Lim is a contributor to Our Daily Bread Ministries Malaysia. Born and raised in Penang, she studied Politics before turning to a career in writing. She loves coffee, books and films.
To read other Spotlight Malaysia articles, click below.