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Cybermonks and the Liquid Church
I was reading a review of “The Shaping of Things to Come” at Darren Rowse’s Living Room blog, which led me to a collection of quotes from the book at Paul Fromont’s Prodigal blog, which led me to an article about the emerging church by Paul, at The Ooze, which led me to a provocative commentary on the future of our faith by New Zealander Mike Riddell, which led me to the book “Liquid Church” by Peter Ward.
Which got me thinking.
Here’s a description of “Liquid Church”:
The church must be like water - flexible, fluid, changeable. This book is a vision for how the church can embrace the liquid nature of culture rather than just scrambling to keep afloat while sailing over it. Ward urges us to move away from the traditional understanding of church as a gathering of people meeting in one place at one time to a dynamic notion of church as a series of relationships and communications. In the Liquid Church, membership is determined by participation and involvement. Liquid Church is continually on the move, flowing in response to the Spirit and the gospel of Jesus, the imagination and creativity of its leaders, and the choices and experiences of its worshippers.
Clearly the internet would play a huge role in such a church, and Mike Riddell introduces the concept of cybermonks:
My interest is in those Celtic monks who followed the call of God to places unknown. These of course were missionary pioneers in a largely re-paganised world. Their example gains fresh relevance as Christians once again assume a position on the margins of the world….The monastic pattern of association offers a potential model for Christian belonging. The monks maintained a loose network of pilgrims united by a common vision, even though often geographically dispersed. They kept alive a sense of common purpose through the writing of letters, personal friendships, and occasional visits.
In this time when communication is so much easier, a dispersed network of cybermonks is a feasible alternative to 'heavy' church, with all its gravitas and need to control. People can take up residence in cultural outposts far from what has previously be familiar, and there live out their lives of quiet devotion among the inhabitants, supported by friendships and shared experiences which are sustained through correspondence and infrequent gatherings. I don't imagine that clergy would be in support of such a move, threatening as it is to their own power and survival. But that is already in question due to other forces.
The Barna Research group forecasts that “within this decade as many as 50 million individuals [in the US] may rely solely upon the internet to provide all of their faith-based experiences” and I think cybermonks are set to play an enormous role, helping us in our spiritual journeys, moving us to new levels of devotion, engendering community, and more.
So where are the cybermonks? Try taking a look at Darren’s Living Room. It’s steadily morphing into far more than just a simple blog. Darren is pro-active. He doesn’t simply write down stuff and then invite comments or suggestions. He’s actually making community. His latest venture is a bloggers’ kris kringle – an anonymous exchange of Christmas gifts.
I suspect that here in Melbourne, just a 15-minute drive from me (though I still haven’t met Darren), we are seeing the surfacing of one of our first cybermonks.
December 8th, 2003