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SimChurch [Paperback]

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Item Number 430906  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   256
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.75" Width: 5.5" Height: 8.5"
Weight:   0.7 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 2009
Publisher   Zondervan Publishing
ISBN  0310287847  
EAN  9780310287841  
UPC  025986287849  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
The virtual church is here, and it?s poised for explosive growth as a generation comfortable with virtual worlds cultivates faith communities online. What is the virtual church, and what possibilities and concerns does it create? This must-read book opens a dialog no culturally aware Christian passionate about the church and evangelism can afford to miss.

Publishers Description
The meeting place for the church of tomorrow will be a computer screen. Don t laugh, and don t feel alarmed. The real-world church isn t going anywhere until Jesus returns. But the virtual church is already here, and it s poised for explosive growth. SimChurch invites you to explore the vision, the concerns, the challenges, and the remarkable possibilities of building Christ s kingdom online. What is the virtual church, and what different forms might it take? Will it be an extension of a real-world church, or a separate entity? How will it encourage families to worship together? Is it even possible or healthy to be the church in the virtual world? If you re passionate about the church and evangelism, and if you feel both excitement and concern over the new virtual world the internet is creating, then these are just some of the vital issues you and other postmillennial followers of Jesus must grapple with. Rich in both biblical and current insight, combining exploration and critique, SimChurch opens a long-overdue discussion you can t afford to miss."

Buy SimChurch by Douglas Estes from our Church Supplies store - isbn: 9780310287841 & 0310287847 upc: 025986287849

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More About Douglas Estes

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Douglas Estes is Adjunct Professor of New Testament at Western Seminary-San Jose and Lead Pastor at Berryessa Valley Church, San Jose, California. He received his PhD in Theology from the University of Nottingham, UK. His publications include The Temporal Mechanics of the Fourth Gospel: A Theory of Hermeneutical Relativity in the Gospel of John (Brill, 2008).

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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Evangelism > Missions & Missionary Work   [0  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Ecclesiology   [0  similar products]

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Covers all the topics, but doesn't really answer the key question  Feb 5, 2010
Here is my review of this book, which I originally posted on my blog last fall. You can find this review and reviews of other books related to faith and technology at my blog [...].

For those of you unfamiliar with this new movement, the idea of online church is not just putting a recording of your church service online. Instead, it is actually conducting an entire live church service online, complete with worship, teaching, offering, fellowship, and possibly even communion and baptism. This can include both churches with Internet campuses and those who conduct services in virtual worlds, such as Second Life. The author tackles questions surrounding the validity of online church and asks some tough questions. He ends the book by challenging online churches to break the mold and attempt to do things that no physical-world church can.

If you have read my blog before, you know that I have been a critic of online church. However, as a lover of technology and the Internet, I am always open to thinking in new ways about things and want to see how technology can be used to share the message of Christ. But I am also a realist: I know that just because we can do church online does not mean that we should. So I read this book with an open mind and heart - looking for new ways of thinking about online church.

Some highlights of SimChurch for me included:

- a definition of virtual church as "a virtually localized assembly of the people of God dwelling in meaningful community with the task of building the kingdom."
- the author taking on those who would use the church as described in Acts 2 as a way to discredit the virtual church. The early church existed at a special time in history and we will never fully be able to recapture it. Churches today cannot expect to do everything that the Acts 2 church did.
- the discussion of how our Western worldview clouds our understanding of "presence". Defining presence as the location of our bodies is not a God-given or Biblical idea.
- a challenge to Christians to be ever vigilant on how we conduct ourselves. Since everything we do virtually is recorded in some way, we should be completely transparent about our online lives. Identity and authenticity will be key issues in the virtual church.
- to be seen as real churches, virtual churches must begin to offer communion. The exact methods as to how to do it must be worked out by each individual church within their traditions and understanding. Baptisms should also be offered.
- The online church will need to leverage their strengths to do things that physical-world church cannot do (or at least cannot do well).
- Douglas Estes is a supporter of online church and in this book he makes a very good case that it is important that these churches continue to move forward and meet the challenges they will face head on. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and was encouraged to think deeper about online church.

Unfortunately, I am still not convinced that the participation in a church service accessed over the Internet and mediated via a computer is the same as actually attending a church physically. In my experience, the types of worship, fellowship, and community experienced online is anemic compared to what one can get by fully participating in a physical-world church (not to mention the issues with communion and baptism). Now this would not be a big issue to me if it were not for the fact that these online churches never encourage those participating online to find to a physical-world church. I was hoping that SimChurch would address this question, but it did not.

Now let me reiterate, I believe it is imperative that Christians take to the Internet as a mission field and learn to understand it well. I wouldn't spend so much of time helping churches do this if I did not feel it was important. Using the Internet should be an integral part of a church's ministry. And being there to meet with and minister to those in the virtual world should be part of what they do. And yes, even providing the ability for someone to experience a church service online can be part of the ministry - but it should be made clear that every believer needs to find a physical community to be a part of as well.

Overall I think that SimChurch does a great job of exploring online church and its implications. If you are looking for a deeper understanding of this phenomenon, then I recommend this book. And if you never have participated in an online church service, I encourage you to do so at the now over forty different Internet campuses available. Just remember to also attend church in "real life" as well.
Great Insight for Online Churches  Feb 1, 2010
As an internet campus pastor with almost a year under my belt doing church online, I approached the book with a little bit of skepticism, but my skepticism was completely unjustified. I finished the book last night, and I wish I had read this book sooner! The author's research into the biblical text, church history, and current online practices was exceptional.

I'm now reconsidering many things that I had taken for granted regarding ministry online. Honestly, the book left me more excited than ever about the importance of this kind of ministry.

Even if you're not currently engaged in much online ministry, this book is certainly worth your while.
A Clarion Call To An Overlooked Missionfield  Jan 5, 2010
For many ministry leaders, the subject of virtual reality evangelism is about as relevant as polyester suits and mile-wide ties. Few if any have enough time to spend time checking emails or on Facebook, much less on virtual reality networks such as Second Life. Its just not a realm of which they ever enter or are even aware. In SimChurch, Doug Estes, takes up the daunting task of engaging the virtual world with the gospel and why it should matter to you.

A good portion of SimChurch is dedicated to explaining exactly what is the virtual world. Estes unpacks the verbiage associated with virtual environments. This is both helpful and necessary to building his comparison of the church in the "real world" and the church in the virtual world. What many ministry leaders will appreciate is how Estes demonstrates fidelity to sound ecclesiology while discussing its implications to ministry in the virtual world. Commenting on those who would eschew the validity of virtual world ministry Estes writes,

" is easy to point to examples of all the unorthodox behavior that goes on in virtual churches - avatars in lingerie, questionable prophets with Christian conspiracy theories, and marauding trolls. Come to think of it, it's easy to do the same with real-world churches too. Church in the virtual world sounds just like church in the real world - lots of confused and broken people who "share" their confusion and brokenness with others."

It is excerpts like these that draw attention to the fact that "real world" pastors and churches overlook the parallels to their virtual world counterparts at their own peril.

SimChurch is not all about explanation and awareness. Estes also spends time casting a vision for how churches and families that are removed from the virtual world can engage it with the gospel. He also describes the possibilities for leveraging the virtual world to engage and equip people who might not otherwise darken the doors of a brick and mortar sanctuary. Estes writes,

"What if in the future, virtual-world-based small groups were more powerful than today's small groups because they are full-on worship experiences? What if we invite our friends over to our house not just for nachos and chili-cheese fries and some discussion but to participate in a virtual-church worship service - especially one that is able to harness the power of the virtual world to allow for attendee participation? What if a virtual-church pastor spoke to hundreds of these "worship parties" around the real world?"

That is the extent of the positive message that Estes conveys. It is a challenge to redeem the virtual world and claim it for the gospel.

I found this book to be extremely practical and thought provoking. I had my assumptions about the virtual world challenged just as I had my understanding of ecclesiology sharpened. SimChurch is as much for those who regularly engage in technology as for those who dont. In either case, it will cause you to think about opportunities exist for taking the gospel to a largely overlooked amalgam of people groups worldwide.

Every Christian Leader Should Read  Jan 4, 2010
Virtual Church is something I was not aware of until recently, but which got me thinking a lot as to the relevance of such a thing. I have found there are a lot of strong opinions on the matter, many against.

However, none of the reasoning seems as well thought out and researched as does, Sim Church. Mr. Estes has gone to painstaking detail in explaining just what virtual church is (and is not).

He also uses examples of how this is not the first time Christians have been wary of something new. (Chapter mentioning John Wesley and the Methodists for example)

And it might be yet another time those concerns are unfounded. For the real purpose of online church is to reach out to people, to witness, and to spread the word of God to a section of people (which is significant and growing) who might not otherwise hear it. The argument should not be "well these people are wrong, because they need to get to a "real" church. That is not witnessing that will convince anyone. This is another mission field. One that will spread the word of God to even more corners of the world.

Mr. Estes has written a book that is thought provoking and backs up his thoughts with research and scripture. It should be required reading for the subject.
Very Intriguing Concepts  Dec 6, 2009
When I received a copy of this book from a friend of mine, I was not sure what to expect. I've never really spent much time considering what it means to be a church, or how the growing scope of technology might affect it. I'm not even the most religious person. I have beliefs, but I don't currently belong to a church and struggle with many aspects of organized religion.

That being said, I found this book tremendously interesting. Other church members and pastors have already spoken up about Estes' work and how it can help as a guide in successful ministry over the internet. For me, as a lay person, the fascination with this book was in taking an example "What does the bible require for legitimacy in a church" and translating the concept into a virtual world. I believe Estes' work has implications beyond the church, although make no mistake, that is definitely his main focus in the book.

One of the chapters that really made me think was called, "The Incarnational Avatar". In this chapter, Estes speaks about avatars (representations of self in a virtual world), and whether people can experience spiritual growth through them. He talks about how people can experience real world changes because of what their avatars experience, and how their "real-life" affects what they choose to do with their avatar. For me, an avatar was always something outside of myself - but Estes makes excellent arguments that even something such as an email address is an avatar, and that it is a deeply personal thing for individuals.

I learned a lot in this book. I learned more about how early churches were organized; I learned about the biblical beliefs that affect the legitimacy of churches; I learned about virtual worlds and experiences in which I have never participated (e.g. Second Life); and I considered how virtual environments will, more and more, become extensions of the real world. Estes makes excellent arguments that you cannot always consider the "real world" to be different than the "virtual world", and his arguments have merit in many different areas.

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