Cyberchurch - feature

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Churches are grabbing cyberspace and using web pages to promote the Christian. The internet is perhaps the largest single library in the world of Christian resources with over six million references to Christianity plus thousands of hours of worship and ministry audio and video, not including many live Web TV broadcasts every week and continuous radio station feeds. And every few months the library doubles in size.  There are many Christian search engines.

Around one in three of those with jobs in many church congregations already on-line - at work. And this is only the first hour of the first day of the digital society.

Not long ago I visited a virtual reality site where you can "see" and "talk" to others around the world. I found a long conversation going on about the evidence for the resurrection, with many listening in. A couple of hours I went back again and they were still at it.

The net is good at reaching men. Ask the average man how many short social messages he has sent to friends by e-mail in the last three months. Men are notoriously bad writers but most I know have sent more notes by e-mail to friends in a month than in a whole two-year period of non-net life.

The net is a brilliant final resting place for old sermon notes, overhead acetates, seminar notes and out of print books. I published "The Rising Price of Love" on the net when out of print and in the last year over 40,000 entire chapters have been downloaded - more than the entire paperback sales over two years.

The net is the only way sometimes of communication with those in countries where any kind of church activity is banned. The net is a brilliant way to circulate urgent prayer requests - ten million people could be mobilised at the speed of light and at zero cost.

The net has its dangers and no responsible parent should allow children unrestricted access to the net. Supervise - or install a program like NetNanny or Cybersitter - both with free demos downloadable from the net itself.

So - get going! The cost is amazingly low. For example, to record and broadcast your morning service costs £100 for a camera, £140 for RealVideo software (download from the net) and around £30 a month to store a couple of hours of video and send it 24 hours a day around the world to whoever wants to watch. Web space comes free with many email accounts. Internet use is free from many suppliers - as are ALL the Internet phone calls evenings and weekends.

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