The i-Church is an online community founded in 2004 whose mission statement is to educate those who wish to know more about Christianity and to support people in their walks with God. This support comes from the opportunities to post prayer requests and interacting with others through blogging. However, the social support is completely constrained to the Internet. The website offers no suggestions for participating in offline interactions, mainly due to the fact that they do not have a local community to house gatherings or organize charity events- they are solely online. They do offer links to various twitter pages or cartoon churches. The question asked is, how does online community support offline involvement? Or does online religion hinder offline activity? From this, one would say that this particular case study of the i-Church, in fact, hinders offline involvement. However, there is a section of the i-Church known as the “core community.” You must be a member to be a part of their community, known as the “Beehive”, and the groups responsibilities are to promote community through pray requests and other electronic and social mediums. Other religious websites, such as Covenant Family’s that I looked at last week, have links that allow their guests to join a “LifeGroup” to then go meet with this group face-to-face and participate in various activities such as service projects or retreats together. This particular online church is helpful in answering the question of whether online religion is a supplement to offline activity by being an example of social relations that don’t encourage progress beyond the computer screen.
The Courtyard that allows you to pray together and partake in worship services!