It had to happen sooner or later. A culture that has had such firm determination in industrializing education, health care, and even the food we eat would obviously find a way to industrialize religious practices. All it needed was the right supporting technology, like the Internet, for example. So it should not have been a surprise to find that yesterday Associated Press Religion Writer Rachel Zoll prepared an extended piece on the rising adoption of online churches. After all, isn't religion just another element of the service sector and therefore subject to all of our recent "insights" in the name of "service science?"
In the grand scheme of things, using social software to facilitate the practices of a religious community is probably neither better nor worse than any other application of that technology. However, if religion is one effort to bring the faithful to the sublime when the world is too much with them, then a Web site where "viewers can click on a tab during worship to accept Christ as their savior" is nothing if not downright ridiculous. More debatable, however, may be recent innovative approaches to engage Internet technology for purposes of proselytization:
LifeChurch.tv has even found a way to attract people surfing for experiences that are far from pious. The congregation buys Google ad words so that a person searching for "sex" or "naked ladies" sees an ad inviting them to a live worship service instead.
Zoll's article concludes with the URLs of five of the online churches discussed in her article. Has the Internet redefined the come-to-Jesus moment?