As soon as Facebook announced its change to Meta and the concept of Metaverse… I could almost hear in my spirit pastors across the globe saying, “Hey! We can set up a church in Metaverse.” But, at the same time, I saw two types of individuals. Some will be excited about its prospect, and some will mock it and attack it. These aren’t new archetypes of thoughts; I have seen and continue to see them today with any form of online ministry. So is the mocking and ridicule warranted? Please allow me to give you my thoughts.
I have been involved with Internet ministry since Xanga was the most popular social media platform. I have done ministry through MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Twitch, and TikTok. I have many ministry friends who also have been in these spaces. So is this type of ministry effective? I think a better question is, what do you call effective ministry? What is the goal of your ministry? To see people get saved… yes, we know that, but what about discipleship? What about helping people get free from addiction, depression, and fear? Who is your ministry reaching?
While every ministry has the end goal of building the body of Christ, we all have our special touch, something that separates us from others. For example, some churches are amazing at foreign missional work. They send teams out to other countries constantly and raise thousands of dollars to support those on the front lines. Some do amazing inner city work. They have rebuilt their community and provided a haven for those in need. Some are fantastic at reaching people in rural communities and connecting neighbors who live miles apart from each other. The gospel doesn’t change from community to community. But how you deliver the gospel does.
My point is every community is different, and they need someone who can speak their language, understand their worldview, and present the truth of the scriptures through those things. The Apostle Paul understood this well and explained it in his letter to the church in Corinth.
For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (English Standard Version | ESV)
Paul didn’t compromise his walk with God when he ministered to one group or the other. But he did use his understanding of their culture and worldview to help point them back to Christ. He did everything he could so that some may be saved.
So what does this have to do with Metaverse churches? Simply this, there will be a community to gather around this idea of the Metaverse. So why shouldn’t the church learn the language and culture of that community and try to reach them for the gospel? We don’t seem to have an issue with Cowboy Churches, Sports ministries, and sowing groups; why can’t you have a ministry that ministers online?
I have a friend in the digital ministry space named Matt Souza. Around the same time that my wife and I began Geek Devotions, he launched GodSquad Church. A church designed to reach gamers. Each Saturday, he has a church service on the streaming website called Twitch, where he has a 100 plus active people in his worship gathering. He ministers to people across the globe, speaking their language and presenting the gospel using their worldview to help them to see the truth. How many of you would like to have 100 active people in your church services? His ministry is vibrant and growing. People are getting saved, baptized, and discipled.
Is digital ministry the end-all? No, not at all. We need face-to-face contact with people. We need to be able to shake a person’s hand, hug them and look them in the eyes. I don’t know anyone who does digital ministry who denies that or acts like those things aren’t necessary. But just because the ministry that God has called them to looks different than yours or operates in a way that you don’t understand doesn’t mean that it’s less than yours. So instead of attacking digital ministers and ministries, the local body should champion them just as much as they do any other ministry that reaches those they can’t reach.
I leave you with this final verse that I hope ties this all together.
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit…. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.1 Corinthians 12:12-13, 26-27