Are THEY Worthy?

As we discuss church, discipleship, gatherings, small groups, etcetera, and—in particular—the validity (or supposed lack thereof) of digital gatherings in comparison to physical ones…perhaps we ought to ask…are THEY worthy?

It’s a provocative question. Who is the “they”? Are they gamers, unchurched, unbelievers, wounded, hurt, ashamed, insulted, assaulted? Are they “worthy”?

Are they worthy of “our” time?

Are they worthy of “our” resources?

Are they worthy of us setting aside our preferences (and, for the sake of argument, the “better” physical gathering)?

The “our” time and resources, from a Christian point of view, are not ours. Supposedly, We are to view them as God’s. In particular, we are to view them as Christ’s. We are to view them as belonging to our Savior.

So, let’s rephrase these questions with that ownership in mind.

Turning the Questions

Are they worthy of Jesus’ time?

Are they worthy of Jesus’ resources?

Now, when we talk about sending missionaries to foreign countries—especially from “the US is the best country” and a “Christian” country perspective—we say, “absolutely” (not saying that this perspective is correct, especially the US part). Setting aside the messianic complex that seems to often go along with that, it’s good to send missionaries. We have no problem spending hundreds of thousands (and even millions or billions) of dollars to reach “those” people in other countries.

Yet, US church language, by and large, seems to have a completely different perspective when it comes to those that reside in the US. Church language says, they need to come inside our walls.

More Than Evangelism

This is not to say all are saying such. Some are utilizing evangelism and missionary language to separate digital from physical. That, at least, is some freedom to reach out digitally and to have community digitally. Yet, even this freedom still implies lesser than status.

They will be “real” Christians by their lives, whether physical or digital.

Physical gatherings are not a moral decision, they are a modal decision. They are a preference.

Truly, though, diminishing digital to be acceptable only in regard to evangelism is to deny both the power of digital and the reality of digital.

When we morally elevate those who physically show up at a church service or event, we diminish the value of those who don’t. That’s a slippery slope.

Bytes are Hard

My limited perspective is that because digital is so foreign to the church, in particular, and also all the leaders of the church who grew up without digital, it’s hard to go digital. That I completely understand.

Church communities are still sending out missionaries, for short-, medium-, and long-term missions. They’ll send them to foreign countries. They’ll send them to places that are outright dangerous to be a Christian. They won’t send them to Facebook, YouTube, Discord, VRChat, and so forth.

Why? I wonder. My gut says, because they supposedly will never darken the door of a particular physical church. So, why bother? Then again, who is doing the sending, the church or Jesus?

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