Thou shalt love thy neighbor – all 600 million of them?
Hosting the first-ever interactive service on Facebook, St. Pixels, an online 3D church, is redefining the way most people worship.
“Love it or hate it, Facebook is where people are in 2011,” said St. Pixels pioneer Mark Howe in a statement. “If the Gospel is for today’s connected culture, it has to find a distinctive but culturally-appropriate place within social networking.”
Designed by Howe, with additional programming by Barry Wickett of Dark Green Media and artwork by Michael Evans and Anthony Ramm of Carousel Digital, the multimedia church is hoping to proclaim Christ through new media outlets.
Behind computer screens and iPhones, worshippers will have the opportunity to listen to Bible readings and a sermon, sing along to hymns and key in prayer requests.
They’ll even be given a chance to weigh in with an “amen” or “zzzz” via a real-time feedback meter they can click.
Clarifying that the project was not a means to try and “look cool and postmodern,” Howe explained, “It’s about applying basic principles of cross-cultural mission to our own culture.”
“It’s easy to build irrelevant ghettos in cyberspace or to abandon distinctives in the rush to embrace the latest online fad. Our Facebook application is an attempt to engage with a cultural phenomenon on its own terms while holding onto the Gospel that has transformed so many cultures across the centuries.”
Initially, a pilot project by webzine Ship of Fools, St. Pixels was formed in 2006 and began as a 2D community, with a bulletin board and chat room as the major meeting points.
“To some of us, the 2D period felt a bit like an exile,” the church wrote. “But it was during this time that we reflected on our experience and became much more of a stable, welcoming community.
“We learned to learn from each other and our different backgrounds in Bible study and general discussion ... we began to care and pray for each other. We found authentic ways of worshipping in our regular chat room prayer services. Some of us even began to meet occasionally and discover how unimportant our appearances can be.”
Moving to a new software system and developing a 3D environment, St. Pixels Ltd came into operation in 2009 and was registered in the U.K., with membership worldwide.
Offering Peer to Peer Discipleship groups, real time chat open 24/7, dialogue forums, and occasional real life meets, St. Pixels desires “to create a sacred space and a welcoming and witnessing community on the Internet.”
They also hope to make disciples by providing opportunities for theological reflection, discussion and exploration.
“God is revealed to seekers by many different means, including creation, the Bible, the life of Jesus and the Spirit-filled witness of the Church. St. Pixels is one expression of that historical, international and universal Church.”
Andrew Graystone, the director of the Church and Media Network, is slated to speak at the first Facebook service.
“We have 600 million ‘neighbors’ on Facebook,” announced Graystone. “St. Pixels on Facebook means 600 million Facebook users now have a church in their pocket. I congratulate St. Pixels on reaching an amazing milestone.”
“So much love, work and care has gone into this unique community and I have been a beneficiary of it.”
The first service will be launched at the Christian Resources Exhibition, U.K.’s biggest and most successful exhibition for equipping and resourcing churches and Christian ministries, on May 10 at 1 and 3 p.m.