Church planter uses Web in outreach

( [email protected] ) Jul 22, 2003 02:08 AM EDT

Many Minneapolis residents are spiritually alive but not particularly interested in being connected to a traditional Christian church, according to church planter Joel Gross, Assemblies of God News reported.

But, overwhelmingly, they are connected to the Internet and deeply intertwined with the culture of the World Wide Web. That's where Tim Bednar, one of the core leaders working with Gross to develop the fledgling Church in Uptown, comes in. Or rather, plugs in.

In addition to being the webmaster for the church, Bednar also serves as pastor of e-Church (, a cyberspace gathering place for Christians and seekers that is linked with Church in Uptown Minneapolis, both electronically and conceptually.

"At first I want to gather groups of folks from the church who are interested in using blogging--a sort of public journaling with interactive comments from others who read and react to the writer's postings--for spiritual formation," Bednar explains. "Then over time open it up to a wider community. We'll use online tools but also other kinds of 'third spaces' like coffeehouses, bookstores and libraries to interact."

Gross says the church wants to use the Web page as more than a place for congregants to check upcoming events. "Our hope is to use the Web and e-church as a tool in starting, developing and nurturing relationships with people who may not otherwise attend a church service," he says.

E-Church actually predates the push to organize Church in Uptown. Bednar launched it in 1998, spurred by his experiences as an adult Sunday school teacher. "I was frustrated that I only had them for 45 minutes a week," Bednar says. "I was tired of Christian education being squeezed out, so I started e-Church to intersect with people during the workweek."