As part of the Leadership Team’s commitment to communicate with members of Anglicans of Second Life, we have recently begun to hold ‘Conversations and Cake’. Cady, our Warden, is an expert at providing enticing refreshments in world. Sustained with virtual cake and coffee, members of our community gather with the Leadership Team to hear what has been going on behind the scenes, a round up of the latest news, and some thoughts for the future. It’s also an opportunity for the Leadership Team to hear ideas from the community. The conversation is written up for our blog, ensuring that those who couldn’t attend are still kept in the loop. Read the latest offering of Conversation and Cake.
Towards the end of the conversation we were talking about the National Fresh Expressions conference which was held in Washington in March. The US is a little slower to adopt the Fresh Expressions terminology than in Canada, for instance, but new ways of doing church are certainly happening there. ZoeRose Eiren, one of our Leadership Team, was able to share with delegates about our ministry in Second Life. Many ministers have not heard of Second Life, which I suppose is not surprising. I noticed when I did the Mission Shaped Ministry course that I was very much on the edge of that group as I was at a recent pioneer meeting in Sheffield. ZoeRose is hoping to demonstrate what we do for those who are interested.
As we chatted together, we were able to share the common experience of those we meet giving us strange looks, as though we have two heads! The internet has a reputation at its worst for being the devil’s playground, full of dangerous and deranged people. At best, the internet is often looked on as a place for games, a time waster, but of no great use to anyone. The idea of having a second life by using the internet is beyond comprehension for many and quite a culture shock for those who hear about it.
Anything new is likely to be viewed with suspicion at first, until it can prove itself. As Christians in the digital space it seems the best way to prove ourselves is to point to the fruit of our ministries. Good fruit cannot grow on a bad tree (Matthew 7:18). If our ministries produce fruit that lasts I hope that more and more people will take us seriously. Has anyone found particularly effective ways to help overcome fear of the digital space as an arena for genuine Christian ministry?
To counter this somewhat negative experience, it’s important to note that there are visionaries in the Church who are supportive and encouraging of what we do. For Anglicans of Second Life, Bishop Christopher Hill of Guildford, England and Bishop Tom Brown of Wellington, New Zealand have been a wonderful support to us. I hope every digital ministry can find those in authority who are prepared to risk supporting it, even if the ministers have two heads!