The internet has changed and is still changing the world as we speak. But the church is getting left behind. Throughout history the the mystical teachings of jesus dominated the spread and assimilation of society throughout the known world. But in my lifetime the church where I live has slowly and successfully declined. I’m 60 next year and there are not too many younger than me at Sunday Mass.
When I went to church in China I was one of the oldest. People would stand to give me a seat, as there was standing room only when the service started. To get a seat you had to go half an hour early. They used to bring out stools so people could sit down. You couldn’t move. There were big screen TVs broadcasting the service around the church, as you couldn’t always see the alter.
At Communion it was organized chaos with about 6 different Communion stations to go to. There were line of people snaking around the church. It was simply amazing I had seen nothing like it for many years. Anyway not since I was a kid going to my school church. On the way out of the church grounds, we had to walk the gauntlet of beggars lined up on both sides of the church gate. But that is China.
Internet is very cheap in China so if I couldn’t make it to church, I used to go online to churchservices.tv to try and join a Mass. That was quite good but there was no interaction. It was like just watching TV. Anyway I settled in secondlife.com at the Anglican Cathedral. That was interactive and I met lots of people, but even there, now when I go back there are less people at Mass.
As I am quite involved with the internet I started looking to cyberspace. I’ve been involved in education for many years and in the past I have used the internet to teach and learn. We taught kindergarten kids off the internet as well as primary school kids. The internet is the future, or it is my future. I started doing MOOCs last year. And was very impressed. To me that is the future of education. Most of the MOOCs I participated in where education related or a topic I am interested in.
In my little village in little old NZ, the people who go to church have settled into their respective churches. But there is a small number who change churches. A couple of kids who come into my shop have started going to the Salvation Army, whereas before they went to a different church. They changed from a night church to a day church. I think mummy didn’t want them walking home at night by themselves. A lot of the kids and street kids alternate between the Salvation Army and another, I think it is a Brethren Church. They have lots going on for the kids.
The old fashioned, established religions that most of the older people go to, do not seem to be attracting new people. But then again rural New Zealand is dying a slow and unnatural death. New people are few and far between and a lot of people in our town just sleep here. They work, shop and do everything in the big city about 25 to 30 kilometers away. They drive back home from the big city, sleep here and drive back to the big city next day. They are not really a part of the village. Their home is here and that is it. They do nothing in the village outside of their house.
It is often said that online communities could be the future, but in the present form I don’t think so. Forums and blogs from 5 or 6 years ago were, in my opinion, more active that they are nowadays. I made virtual friends, I’d never met, in some forums, but that has all died now.