Axis Church Online
by Angelos Kyriakides
Over the past 50 years, the ‘Digital Revolution’ has made connecting around the globe simple and instantaneous. The Church is keeping pace by utilizing all the resources available. There’s no shortage of technological wealth used to fulfill the Great Commission.
The appearance of online churches is still a fairly new phenomenon. Many churches have been streaming their services online; but now, congregations are meeting online. The Internet is their campus.
Unlike churches that merely have specific online components, these churches function primarily on the Internet. They are alternative communities hoping to reach people who, for various reasons, may not find their local parish accessible – including shut-ins, the disabled, some who have left the church and some who have never attended one. Although this approach has been critiqued as artificial, one online ministry that runs out of Langley, BC has taken to cyberspace to share God’s word, recognizing the opportunities and challenges involved.
Axis Church is an online ministry whose mission is to see all people come to faith in Christ, but caters especially to those who’ve never been to church, or may have left the church. A pre-recorded service streams 40 times a week, every two hours from Saturday morning to midnight on Monday. Once tuned in, people can watch and take part in worship, which comes in two styles – either traditional or contemporary (people can choose either), hear personal testimonies called ‘God stories’ and hear a message based on the Bible. If those tuned in need prayer or counselling, they can click on the ‘Request Prayer’ icon and speak with someone live as the service is streaming.
Axis Church is the result of a vision God gave to pastor Harvey Trauter. After planting two churches in Alberta and providing mentorship to others involved in the field, Trauter says he felt something percolating in his heart to create more authentic communities.
One may ask how the Internet, a place where people are only meeting via their computers, can help to create a more authentic community. But Trauter’s vision diverges from most internet communities. The end goal isn’t simply to meet online, but to eventually have people meet in their homes and walk out their faith in genuine ways. “We’re actually about creating communities and supporting them with an online presence,” shares Trauter. “We don’t want people isolated to watch a service and feel they’re going to church. It may start there and there may be a few introverts and that’s all it will ever be for them, but we want to move people over into hosting a community and then we’ll equip them and we’ll encourage them.”
These communities will meet together to watch Axis services online, discuss the messages and have a fellowship meal once a month. In doing this, Axis Church hopes to move away from the spectator style of larger church services, instead encouraging people to ‘do life together’ on their own. The church has visitors tuning in from as far away as Africa. Last week more than 400 people streamed some or all of their service.
Although Axis Church is still in early stages of its ministry, the concept is exciting. With the glare of Internet programming constantly vying for our attention, utilizing it to create authentic Christ-centered gatherings is a refreshing notion. As the world continues to increase the use of digital technology, this may be one way the Church can be ‘in the world’ while retaining a sense of fellowship that is integral to its existence.