I will never forget the day I received the text that my friend, Barry, had gone kayaking on the ocean and had not returned home. For all of that night and the next morning I waited for news of him. I checked my phone constantly, and prayed to hear something that would release the fist around my heart. Then toward the middle of the day I got the message I was dreading – Barry had been found. He had not survived the night.
I was away from home and there wasn’t anyone I could turn to in my grief. But for the next few days, through Facebook and WhatsApp messages, I connected with the whole community of people who had known Barry and had been touched by his life and ministry. We couldn’t connect physically, but this online community, that spontaneously formed around Barry’s death, brought such comfort and strength to every one of us. If I had ever had doubts about whether true community could exist on the internet, they were completely eradicated that day.
CAN WE FIND COMMUNITY ONLINE?
It is common to hear negative comments about how our devices and social media separate us from each other, and perhaps there is truth in these concerns. My experience is different though. I have experienced online community in so many ways over the years:
- Being comforted when Barry died;
- Supporting a friend I’ve never met in New Zealand on the anniversary of his daughter’s death;
- Celebrating various wonderful achievements and experiences with my son who now lives in a different part of the world;
- Developing real and lasting friendships, and creative collaborations, with people in various countries;
- Celebrating with South Africans across the globe as we watched our team (together in real time) win the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
For me, the internet has provided a place of true connection which at times has been even more honest than offline communities.
A NEW KIND OF SPIRITUAL COMMUNITY
We are constantly being told that the Christian Church (and other religious institutions) are in decline. Millennials in particular are leaving religious institutions at an unprecedented rate. It’s not that people are losing a desire for spirituality. It’s that many of us no longer believe that religious institutions are helpful in an intentional spiritual journey.
For the last decade I’ve been exploring the possibility of creating a new kind of spiritual community. An online, on demand, honest, open, welcoming, and intentional community where members can connect across the boundaries of space and time to support and encourage each other in this journey we call life.
I believe I have finally found a way to make this community a reality. In the next few weeks I’ll be introducing you to EvoFaith, and inviting you to consider becoming part of this new, online expression of spiritual community.
WHAT IS EVOFAITH?
If you are looking for a tribe where questions are welcome, difference is celebrated, and faith and science are seen as allies not enemies, then welcome to EvoFaith. If you’re seeking an intentional focus on connecting in community, on creative, deep, and interactive spiritual practice, and on diving into the mystery of the Divine, the universe, ourselves, and others, then EvoFaith may just be the place for you.
We hope you’ll join us on this exciting, evolving spiritual journey! You can even start right now:
- Add a comment below: How have you experienced online community? What value might you find in an online community like this?
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- And if you know of anyone who may find a community like this helpful, please feel free to share the news about EvoFaith – the evolving, evolutionary spiritual community where everyone is welcome.
Over to you!
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