In the early days of Methodism, a group of people would gather to pray and support each other on their faith journey. These people did not leave the churches in which they were baptized, but the society formed a greater connection in which they may be strengthened while the world is in turmoil.
Our world is in turmoil today as well. A new society of Methodists would be a valuable thing. How are such like-minded people to connect and grow a society in the 21st century?
While planting new churches is becoming a popular idea, I propose a community that starts on the Web and moves into the physical world. Many people make their initial connections online today. They follow links from one Web destination to another, all the while learning which connections they find genuinely meet their spiritual needs.
Thus, the online faith community needs to be able to minister to this population before physical contact is made. An opportunity must be provided for worship, pastoral care, Christian education and overall growth of one’s discipleship. Nevertheless, it should not end there. It needs to bring together these seekers together in the physical realm so that they may see the reality of God’s power working through them as the physical community.
John Girton has shown one way for a faith community to form online with connections in the physical realm. Based in Nashville, Tenn., The Loving Church now has cell groups meeting throughout the United States and individuals participating from around the world.
Imagine the power of the United Society, today known as The United Methodist Church, if it would engage people around the world in a similar manner today. The large amount of resources and already established local connections would provide infinite ways for people connect. Who will join me in such an endeavor?