Christians have historically come together in communities for fellowship and to discuss God’s Word. From the earliest days of the church, when the Apostles would gather to break bread, to the establishment of mega-churches today, where tens of thousands of people gather for worship, Christians have lived together following the model of the body of Christ. With the advances of technology, a new community frontier has opened up – a place where sometimes a hundred-thousand Christians can interact in one great community.
Imagine a great stadium filled with Godly discourse, with thousands of spiritually-oriented discussion being carried out at once. In one corner of the stadium, a group of parents discuss how to best raise Godly children. In another corner, teenagers are gathered, discussing the latest CCM news. This is the sort of discussion that occurs daily on sites such as Christian-Forums.com, where thousands of Christians discuss dozens of topics.
Almost 80,000 members have signed up with Christian-Forums since its launch in 2001. To fathom a number such as 80,000, you would need to imagine the entire 15,000 member congregation of Saddleback Church more than 5 times over. At any given time, there are often over 600 members using the forums, discussing many of the 700,000 discussion threads that have been started.
There are many reasons that Christians have come to populate online communities so quickly. One is that according to the nature of the Internet, thousands of miles can be traversed by a single click. People who would otherwise never meet can speak to each other as if vis-à-vis. Another is that Christians have a spiritual need to be with other believers – for what fellowship can light have with darkness? By a Christian chatting with another Christian online, they are avoiding the secular discussions they may otherwise have with non-believers. Third, for young Christians and seekers, they may feel more comfortable exploring spirituality through the relative anonymity afforded by online forums.
In any case, Christian communities online have come to be a place where thousands of Christians congregate to break bread and share their wisdom in the Lord. By the internet, Christians have been given a new tool for spiritual growth and support. Though the concept of the online community is relatively young, the Lord may well use these great communities for his work and history.