A new frontier of ministry

14 04 2007

I have discovered a place with a population of more than 5 million people, where the church has only a minor presence. And yet there is much pain and alienation within this land and the church is desperately needed. The place is…

Second Life. For those familiar with my blog you will have heard of Second Life. But for those new to Second Life (SL) a brief explanation: it is a virtual world that is accessed via the internet. You are represented by a character and interact with others via text chatting. It is populated by people from around the world and at any given moment has around 35,000 people in world. It has grown incredibly fast and is expected to continue growing for the foreseeable future (check out the post links on Second Life at the end of this post for more info.).

SL represents the next stage of the internet (see Here Comes 3D Web for more) and as such it is important that the church is part of the early exploration and development.

My involvement with Second Life has taken a dramatic turn. I am now the leader of the Anglican community which has recently begun building the first Anglican Cathedral in SL.

Recently I sent out the following notice to the Anglicans in SL:

My vision is to create an awe inspiring church that stands out for its brilliance and beauty.

My vision is that we regularly come together from around the world to worship and pray together in the Anglican tradition.

My vision is also to establish a Christian Ministry within SL which will include support and care programmes as well as evangelism initiatives.

It is certainly early days but what an exciting opportunity!! I will keep you informed via this blog.

To run this ministry will cost around US$1000 per year. If you would like to sponsor this dynamic and innovative ministry or if you would like to get involved in some other way please email me at mbrownsky@hotmail.com

Mark

Some shots of the Cathedral so far… (it will take another month at least to complete)

cathedral_0011.jpg

cathedral_003.jpg

cathedral_002.jpg

Click here for more photos of SL

 

Related posts:

Christian Ministry in a Web 2.0 Environment

Virtual Spirituality

 

Re-imagining Church

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6 responses

16 04 2007
John McNeil

I am struggling to come to terms with this. No-one starting a church-planting or evangelistic ministry in the real world would begin by building a cathedral. What is the rationale for doing so here??

16 04 2007
Mark Brown

G’day John,

An excellent point! You are right that building a Cathedral in RL (Real Life) is preposterous when developing an evangelistic ministry. The rationale in Second Life (SL) is:

a) One of the primary strategies of making your presence known in SL is through virtual architecture. It acts to create a buzz. But the key is to do something different. This intends to be an awe inspiring structure, to stand out amongst the usual offerings.

b) There is a desperate need to provide a focus for Christians in SL. Somewhere to meet, somewhere to call ‘home’.

c) SL is full of people from around the world. It is essential to build something that is distinctly recognized as a Christian place, to draw Christians together for fellowship, care and motivation.

d) My reading shows that post-modernity is interested in both tradition and technology – so a cathedral in SL is an attempt to offer the two!

e) The aim is to develop ministry programmes, the cathedral will play a part in this but will not become the focus.

f) We are experimenting!! This is new territory, new fields. We will no doubt make many mistakes, but what an exciting opportunity all the same.

Thanks again for your comment mate.

Mark

17 04 2007
sally

I am impressed by your well thought out reasoning for building a Cathedral in SL. The whole concept of evangelising in this way brings challenges quite different from those in the real world- looking forward to reading how you get on!

18 04 2007
Caedmon2

Hi Mark,

You made a comment about the cost of starting up this ministry. I am just getting my head around the economics of Second Life. Although the GDP of SL is valued at $2,000 US and is equivalent to that of Sengeal according to the International Monetary Fund List of 2005 the SL, would it be fair to say that the economy is a leecher’s economy? That is, no tangible goods are created in the environment, e.g. crops for food. The economy leeches of the users’ respective economies, mainly that of the US, I suspect. I realise money changes hands, but why does this occur?
Why does your cathedral cost money? It is not real, where does the money go to?

18 04 2007
Mark Brown

G’day Caedmon2,

Great question,

The SL economy works like any other economy – supply and demand. In the case of the Cathedral the cost is the land the Cathedral is on. This money goes to the land owner which in turn is paid to the owners of SL, Linden Labs. So land is required for a church and they have the land. We are prepared to pay Linden dollars (the SL currency) for the land.

For a detailed explaination of the Linden Dollar and the Linden Exchange see http://blog.secondlife.com/2007/02/09/state-of-the-virtual-world-%e2%80%93-key-metrics-january-2007/

Hope this helps!

Mark

15 06 2007
Gallycat

Hi Mark, I’m Helen, known as Vahnia Gregory in world but more commonly known on the internet as Gallycat.

Very interested in what you’re doing; would like to see the TECUSA doing some of this in world. I’ve joined your group and hope to run into you soon.

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