I'VE BEEN SURPRISED BY the unexpected possibilities of online services ever since our church began experimenting with them five years ago. At first I thought they would be fairly passive, like listening to a prerecorded Christian Science Bible Lesson over the phone. Instead they have added an entirely new dimension to our services and our church.
We've found that attending a service or meeting online can be much more than an emergency substitute when you can't attend a church service in person. On one level, online services meet the need of more people who simply want the comfort of hearing the Bible Lesson at a Sunday service, or the fellowship of reports of healing at Wednesday meetings. But they also allow more people to dive into the deep work of church, reaching out to our community and world, and cementing strong bonds of fellowship with our church family — all over the telephone line and the Internet! Online access has increased, not reduced, participation at our church's metaphysical and business meetings, too. It's actually increased our membership.
Our services can be accessed by both teleconference and via Skype on the Internet. Each has different advantages: the telephone is widely available to virtually anyone, while Skype is free and the sound quality is better. Either way, many people attending electronically report feeling the same love, the same communion with like-minded thinkers, and the same embrace by our church family as when they are present physically in the room. Many have reported healings of physical conditions while participating in our services online, just as have others attending in person.
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