In a day and age where statistics show churches across the nation are experiencing attendance declines, of the more than 1.5 billion people in the world that have personal computers, millions are logging onto the Internet and getting their word from their favorite preachers and Bible teachers.
Whether on Twitter, Facebook, or through Internet Church, Christians across the nation are choosing e-pastors like Bishop T.D. Jakes to follow online to receive positive and uplifting messages like this: “God has a divine plan for your life. However, Jesus needs you to step out of the boat so that you may progress toward your greater purpose.” That short message and other ones like it are the sort of encouragements Jakes’ 600,000+ followers (and the masses that don’t follow on Twitter) are flocking to e-church, at tdjakes.org, to hear.
Every week, anyone with an Internet connection can “sit in” on his live service at The Potter’s House in Dallas and experience the mega preacher’s real-time full-length sermons on Sunday at 9:00 am CST.
But Jakes isn’t the only one attracting Christians and non-Christians to e-church and Twitter.
Joyce Meyer’s million plus Twitter followers are daily empowered through the inspirational quotes she tweets out. Among her most loyal supporters is “good girl gone bad” pop star Rihanna, who shares Meyer’s tweets faithfully, as well as Instagram photos of the Bible Teacher’s devotionals.
Meyer’s “Enjoying Everyday Life” broadcasts are viewed by millions daily and droves of people head out to her nationwide women’s conferences. Last month, at Meyer’s “Love Life” conference in St. Louis, nearly 5,000 souls were saved in one night.
Gone are the days when geographical location constituted confinement to a specific ministry, demanded exclusive membership at a particular local assembly, or mandated affiliation with a certain group.
In a 2007 study, Lifeway Research determined that 70% of young Protestant adults between the ages of 18–22 had stopped attending church regularly. But many of them today can be found online, clicking their way through to virtual church.
Though criticized for its lack of physical human connection, the Internet church trend shows no signs of stopping.
It appeals to those that wish to reach beyond the borders of their hometown and connect with leaders abroad who inspire, empower, and minister to their needs more effectively.