Monday, October 20, 2008

A New Day

Though the Church by and large is dragging her feet as much as she can, the world is changing. I find it very sad that again the Church is fragmenting much like it did when Martin Luther ushed in a new era. The old way versus the new.

I know many will go ape over this, but here we are:

I believe in online ministry. Websites, blogs, and yes, baptisms...

If you object to this, does it help to know that the pastor insisted on doing this because it was too important to wait? That she was a new Christian that had committed her life to Christ? That a few days later the person baptized unexpectedly died from an aortic aneurysm?

It's a new day. A new world. A new ministry.


Todd said...

That was great when the kid got tossed into the baptismal pool =P

Actually I would like to hear from someone who is bothered by this, just to better understand the other side of this discussion.

Personally there isn't anything about this that bothers me. I feel like this is something that Paul would not have hesitated to do.

The Internet and Technology has helped me connect and be connected with my Church. I never miss a Sunday anymore becasue if I can't be present at the church building, I can watch the sermon online later. There's a blog for small group leaders to discuss issues and prepare for each week.

What a great gift we've been given with this new wave of technology. Now how else can we use it to get the message of Truth out?

Scott and Leah Drichel said...

I agree with Todd. I don't see why anyone would get upset over this. I think it was wonderful! Especially considering the woman died a few days later. That just proves that the Pastor was anointed and the Holy Spirit was giving him the feeling of urgency. I suppose I could see where technology could be used to the extreme - in cases where church members drop out of a local body of believers and ONLY watch sermons online and think that's good enough to "count" as church, that could get unbiblical, I think. I don't think technology should REPLACE the Body of Believers in a person's life. The reason we GO to church is to worship corporately together and part of that is fellowshipping with one another so we can support each other and pray for each other. I think it's fine to watch online sermons like Todd said when he's out of town. And I think shut-ins are another exception. Still, I feel there needs to be interactions between church members.

I find nothing at all wrong with this baptism, though. Thanks for posting it and making people think!

Boiler Girl said...

so do you believe the woman would not go to heaven if she hadn't been baptized, even though she was a Christian?

Mark said...

Not at all!?!

Baptism is the public declaration of God's grace at work in our life...not the actual grace.

Mark said...

Todd & Leah,

I wholeheartedly agree that we shouldn't substitute online gatherings for physical presence as a regular practice.

However, in churches with ordination required to give the sacraments, the internet provides greater flexibility and options never before offered...

When I was at Judyville, I had to wait for an ordained elder to come and do we could just do it online!

Todd said...

Good points. I am sure there are some who find it completely impersonal and so they reject the idea of pastoring a religious ceremony through a webcam. For those of us who grew up on the cusp of this stuff being invented, I know I am able to feel a personal connection through even this blog. I haven't seen Leah in years, but I am now engaged in a conversation with her again. (Hi Leah!)

I guess my point is, I am completely comfortable with this medium, and most likely the majority of people who would read a blog are as well, but what if any sensitivity do we need to have for the generation or two before us who may not feel any personal connection let alone spiritual connection through a computer? How do we advance AND keep everyone with us? How do we avoid the split you started this post with? Thoughts?

Boiler Girl said...

Okay, just a couple of things. First I do not in any way disregard Mark's opinions or beliefs. I hold Mark in the highest regards and have felt the love and care from him and Stephanie over the past 3 1/2 years of our trails and struggles that has meant so much to our family.
And as much as I love Mark I would still have to disagree. Satan has such a strong foothold in the church today to take something like the Internet and make everything so readily accessible there are too many people out there who forget the whole point of "going to church", which is to come together as one to worship the Lord as He intended.
There are so many online-only churches and house churches that I think that it would draw not only unbelievers away but also new believers as well. There's a whole movement out there of anti-church Christians, so when we start being flexible on everything where does it stop?
Now our church does post the sermon to listen to online, so I won't deny that. But I know that our pastors really struggled with doing so because of people staying home to listen to the message, instead of going to church.
Also, if anyone is not able to attend their home church, there is any number of churches to be able to visit and gather with fellow believers.
I believe the Internet even has the yellow pages listed on it now. :) If you're dealing with one who is at home always unable to come to church, isn't it part of the church's responsibilty to reach out and care for those who are sick? Why can't the pastor do communion with them at home?
I understand the concept of the good behind wanting to do these things, and if anyone wants to discuss them further please e-mail me. I won't be offended for not agreeing with me. Either way I have to go pick up the girlie from school...I'm late! :)

Mark said...

Those are all good comments, BoilerGirl, and to some regard I agree with them.

That's why this is such a sticky discussion in every sense of the word.

Notice the volume of comments...the very nature of it's controversy (sticky) has made it stay in our minds rolling around and wanting more discussion (sticky).

Trust me. As a pastor, I don't believe that we can substitute anything for the gathering of believers; however, I think there are now new options to supplement that and/or enhance it.

Thanks for the comments...and for the kind words!

bja said...

I would have loved to have been part of the baptism.I was baptisted as an adult and I have never forgotten the awesome feeling I had. I am sure everyone associated with that baptism experienced the same thing. BJA

Scott and Leah Drichel said...

I agree with everyone! And, yes, thank you for pointing out that the person was not saved BY the baptism. That is important. I think it's great she got to do it right away, though, when she had the desire to do so. And that is the good thing about what they did with the webcam. (Side note: Hi Todd!:) )

I actually have strong feelings about this because we had a couple in our small group who was attending our church. They were wonderful people, very strong in their faith, knowledgeable and standing firm in Biblical truth. Then one day they announced that they were no longer going to attend our church anymore - or ANY church. They were going to take a one year "church sabbatical". They believe there is a new "emerging church" that is more "culturally relevant" that say you can get a group of people together at Panera Bread on a Sunday morning, discuss faith issues, pray for each other, etc. and on the side there are PLENTY of resources available online (podcasts and streaming video and audio messages by the "big guys" who are actually anointed for teaching. Their argument is that Pastors in the local church are sometimes irrelevant b/c they are not always gifted to teach so why not leave it up to those who actually are? And get it online at that!) Their argument is that some people are so jaded by the Church that they would never set foot inside of one. Where will they hear the Message and the Truth if we are not out there available to give it to them? And instead of just doing outreaches WITH the church...they have decided to just go out and BE the church in the community. It's tough because some of what they are saying really does make sense to me.

However, while I attend a more contemporary (and dare I say it, "post-modern" - a bad word in some churches) church movement, this thinking bothered me. The main reason is what we've been talking about here - if you don't meet together regularly for the sole purpose of coming together to worship God, you don't build the types of relationships that make accountability safe. Also, in a place like Panera, you don't have the "set aside space" to "do spiritual transactions" (if you will). I mean, can say you aren't self-conscious praying and crying in a booth at Panera Bread, but could you NOT be? While I see what they are getting at (new ways to reach the younger generation that are familiar and "on their territory"), I don't see the value in throwing out the church altogether. In addition, the whole argument that Pastors are irrelevant is simply a slap in the face to all the hard-working Pastors who prepare messages week in and week out and who truly are anointed by the Spirit to share a specific message with a specific body of believers each and every week. I am all for listening to Beth Moore Bible studies (I LOVE HER), but if you think I am going to substitute ALL my Pastor's messages for her, you're crazy! One reason is because my Pastor KNOWS me! He knows all of us. He has a better sense of what the Spirit wants to say to us than any traveling speaker (no matter how wonderful) ever could. And there are messages just for certain groups at certain times.

Anyway, I know that is NOT AT ALL what Mark was saying when he posted this. I am just throwing this subject out there to add to everyone's thoughts and bring awareness that this sort of movement is also going on. And I definitely do think it's much different from what Mark is presenting here in this post.

Yes, there should be limits. And I's tough to know where the lines should be because as humans, we are so good at crossing lines or at the very least, blurring them.