The idea was, the more times you could get together, the stronger you would be as a group.
Certainly, there is much to argue with this. Generations of loose acquaintanceships, masquerading as friendships, demonstrate that simply gathering together, even frequently, does not build real relationships. But there is still something about connecting with each other that makes us feel better and feel closer to each other.
Some churches meet this need through the offer of different fellowship activities. Other churches use small groups. The idea behind these is to offer varied points of connection, assuming that if we offer a large enough variety of ways to connect with others, people will find an avenue that fits them and become involved.
But in today's world, many people don't have the time to spend attending multiple classes, services, and activities at the church building. Some live far enough away from where the church they attend that it's impractical to meet more than once each week. Others have work schedules or family obligations that often conflict with meeting times.
But these people still yearn for some kind of connection outside of weekly Sunday worship services. And this is where the power of the internet comes in. Just as previous generations would stay connected to each other during the week by phone, today's generation stays connected by email, text message, or online communication.
These networks provide means of communication and connection by the ways they link people together. Other than email, a couple of the bigger networks online are Facebook and Twitter. Many people use these services to build a profile about themselves, who they are, what they like, and so on, and to stay in touch with other friends.
I personally vouch for both these services. I have accounts at both, and have stayed in touch with old friends and church members through both. Facebook generally keeps accounts private, but you may check out my Twitter account at this link. (Twitter accounts are public by default, though you can set your account to be private, if you want.) If you have a Facebook account, you can connect with me by clicking here.
These services can also be used evangelistically, for fellowship, and for Christian communication. In addition to sharing thoughts and messages with others, I also use these services to share links to my sermons, to good articles I found online, and to other resources that can be used devotionally.
At the Horton Road Church of Christ, we're slowly building our online infrastructure, piece by piece. We desire to deepen our communication with each other. We have set up a Facebook page and a Twitter account and we encourage those who have accounts to use them both to connect with each other and to spread the word about our church by posting a brief update about your church experience on Sunday or after some other activity.
An example of how this all might work is this: A church member is inspired by the Sunday worship service. She goes home and posts about her excitement on her Facebook account. She then contacts another church member through Facebook, asking what she thought about the sermon. This church member responds later in the night, thereby creating a positive flow of communication about the church that can be seen by others who may not even be members of the church! Meanwhile, a friend who doesn't attend church reads this member's Facebook update and responds, opening the door to information being shared about the church.
Another church member hears something during the sermon that really sparks his interest. He pulls out his phone and sends a post to his Twitter account. This post is broadcast to all who are following him. Information about the church and the church's teaching goes out, live, to anyone who is following this church member's updates. Later, when he checks in at night, he sees a couple comments and questions from friends about what he posted. This opens a dialogue about the church and what we believe.
These examples may seem far-fetched, but they are in the realm of possibility. I encourage you to investigate these services and consider signing up, or if you already have accounts, use them for God's glory by communicating with other church members and posting thoughts about our worship services and activities. You never know how someone might be reached. It's up to us to use the tools we can to take the gospel into our world.