How the Metaverse is changing the way people attend church
From a news segment on the Today programme USA.
Jason Poling is the lead pastor of Cornerstone Church of Yuba City, California. And now a pastor in the Metaverse,
Each Sunday, after preaching to services in the building in person, he heads to his office, pops on his VR headset, and preaches to his other congregation in the Metaverse.
Volunteers have built the digital world of Cornerstone VR church to look just like the real one, even down to the stained glass windows, but the beauty of the Metaverse you can design it however you'd like, even do church outside.
I've always loved tech. People come to the Metaverse to try to connect with others, trying to deal with some of the issues that they're facing. And so as a pastor, that's my bread and butter. I want to help people who are hurting. I'm reaching people who would never wander through the doors of a physical church.
The beauty of is that they just go on to the application or the programme just to hang out, see what's up. And they see the event, "Oh, there's a church". And where they probably wouldn't come to a brick and mortar church which was just maybe awkward for them, they're like, "Oh, I can click in and click out if it's weird". And so it's easy to jump in.
I think some of the anonymity that's initially there, allows people to be more open about their life. I mean, it's amazing how quickly somebody will go deep with me about their life within five minutes of meeting them.
Now those visitors are becoming full fledged members of Cornerstone, like Alice who joins in from the UK every week. "If it wasn't for finding church here in the Metaverse, I would have been very reluctant."
The virtual reality version of Cornerstone offers everything the real one does; small groups, fellowship, even baptism and communion.
(WOTS - as you might expect there is some debate in the Metaverse community about baptism and communion).
Over the last six months the number of churches entering VR has exploded. It's grown in popularity so quickly. There was even a Metaverse church summit this year to help support pastors. One major benefit this new frontier has is that it's a lot cheaper. Churches had to spend an enormous amount of money to have a building and all the stuff that comes with that and in the Metaverse, it's the headset.
For those who can't physically make it to the church, that headset can make all the difference in the world. Thomas McFerrin, a long-time member of Cornerstone Church now helps lead their virtual community, "I had a heart attack, and I couldn't make it back to church. It was just really too difficult to walk and get around. Church in the Metaverse gives me purpose. It's an outlet that I couldn't even never imagined before."
During the pandemic, many churches started streaming services. Metaverse is different. Instead of just watching the YouTube channel, in the Metaverse the difference is the interaction and fellowship with other members of the church. You get to experience fully hanging out with people, having conversation.
Watch this 5 minute news segment to get a feel for church in the metaverse.
(Tap the button on top left of picture to unmute.)
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From a news segment on the Today programme USA., 06/09/2022