Metaverse Church May Become The New Trend In Spiritual World

By Pamela Glass | Saturday, 18 June 2022 05:15
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Months before the coronavirus pandemic exploded, many churches struggled to acknowledge that a growing share of their audience had been migrating to online tutors and worship experiences.

When the World Health Organization announced COVID-19 a pandemic in March 2020, data from the Nashville-based LifeWay Research proposed that many churches were not prepared to take their services online.

Back then, only 22% of pastors livestreamed their whole service, and roughly 10% just livestreamed their sermon. About 41% of pastors admitted they didn’t post any portion of their church service online, while roughly 52% explained they posted the sermon online after the church service.

Less than two years after bearing the ravages of the pandemic, though, a lot has changed.

Data gathered in a survey of almost 2,000 decision-making church leaders for The 2021 State of Church Technology Report from Pushpay reveals that most American churches now embrace technology as an essential tool in achieving their mission and agree that the digital church is here to stay. The report discovers that churches, more than ever, "are enthusiastic to adopt technology for the long haul" as the pandemic "erased any doubts regarding the viability of a digital Church."

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Earlier this year, Pastor Touré Roberts of the Potter’s House of Denver announced his congregation would sell their $12.2 million, 137,000-square-foot church in Arapahoe County, Colorado, and go completely virtual after COVID-19 wreaked havoc on their in-person attendance and donations.

Many other churches sold or shuttered their church buildings for good. Others have been attempting more creative methods to survive outside of migrating online completely or merging with another church, as the pastors of Hope Church in High Point and Renaissance Church in Jamestown, North Carolina, did earlier this year.

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While many churches are wrestling with the basics of the constantly evolving wave of online technologies impacting the way people live, big technology companies and a minority of churches are already getting ready for the future of the internet, what some are calling the metaverse.

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Che’von Lewis, a representative of social media giant Facebook, whose parent company Meta Platforms Inc. is investing heavily in the development of the metaverse, described it to The Christian Post as “a set of virtual spaces where you can create and explore with other people who aren’t in the same physical space as you.”

“We see the metaverse as the next evolution in social technologies and the successor to the mobile internet,” Lewis announced. “It will feel like a hybrid of today’s online social experiences, sometimes expanded into three dimensions, or projected into the physical world — and seamlessly stitched together so that you can easily jump from one thing to another.”

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In the metaverse, Lewis stated, people can work, play, learn, shop, create and hang out with their friends, among other things.

Last summer, throughout a virtual faith summit with many religious groups, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg highlighted the part Facebook played when communities of faith were unable to gather in person due to the pandemic. She stated she was looking forward to the day when churches and other religious groups start hosting services in virtual reality on the platform.

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“I know that faith organizations and social media are a natural fit because fundamentally, both are about connection,” Sandberg announced. “This was true long before the pandemic. Back in 2017, we changed our mission to give people the power to build community around the world closer together."

“We envisioned a world where our platform could help people build community by connecting with others who shared their interests. … Our hope is that one day people will host religious services in virtual reality spaces as well or use augmented reality as an educational tool to teach their children the story of their faith.”

“VR Church is a spiritual community which exists entirely in the metaverse to celebrate God’s love for the world,” the church states on its website. “We believe church can be anywhere at any time with anyone…even in the metaverse.”

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