“Hey Jeff, I’m thinking about opening a Bar in Virtual Reality, specifically VRChat.” My friend Joey is a Digital Pastor in Ohio and part of a Metaverse Learning Community I lead through Leadership Network. I had recently challenged him to launch something ministry-focused in the Metaverse. His reply to starting a VR Bar wasn’t a total surprise to me. I’ve always respected Joey and his church’s ability to think outside the box.
Think differently to reach different people.
Joey’s title is “Global Integrations Pastor.” However, he spends a lot of time pastoring the community at one of the church’s micro-locations, a local bar in town. A self-proclaimed “Bar Pastor,” Joey is a walking example showing that you have to do something different to reach different people. Yeah, the church meets in a physical bar in town. Maybe this idea of a church in a bar is controversial. Yet, I’ve met several people lately with similar bar church stories.
WHAT IS A VIRTUAL BAR?
Bars in Virtual Reality are a little different than physical bars. Virtual Bars in worlds like VRChat are a thriving business model, as people pay for memberships and subscriptions for exclusive experiences. Some of these experiences may be a bit shady since VRChat is considered by many to be the worst of virtual reality. Alcoholism, drug use, prostitution, pornography. I’ve met people who have been sexually assaulted in virtual reality dark spaces like the back rooms in a VR Bar. Where there is darkness, the Gospel light shines the brightest. The Church HAS to go into VRChat, and the more I listened to my friend Joey talk about opening a Virtual Reality Bar, the more I wanted to be a part of this vision.
Through relational trust, the listener later has the openness to “hear our heart” when we later talk about Jesus.
I’m not suggesting that this is a venue for a church service. The goal is not to open a virtual reality sports bar with lots of video screens where we can broadcast church services on Sunday. The more we talk about the idea of church in a virtual reality bar, the less we talk about sermons or services. There’s nothing wrong with church services in virtual reality. People are getting reached through the services. But we’re looking and longing to do something different. How different? We’re looking to capitalize on building relationships, which some call pre-evangelism. The goal is to create an environment where we offer missionally-minded people opportunities to share experiences with others and, through these relationships, point people to Jesus.
WHY START A VIRTUAL BAR
The “why” for Virtual Reality Bar in VRChat is simple. We want to connect with people. We want to build relationships with them and create an environment of shared experiences. Shooting pool, playing cornhole, or merely talking to someone in virtual reality builds relational equity. Through relational trust, the listener later has the openness to “hear our heart” when we later talk about Jesus.
Capitalize on building relationships.
To reach the metaverse, we need to think outside the box. So, we’re launching a Bar in the VRChat. I know that some of you are excited while others are mortified. But, let’s continue to think differently to reach different people.
If you are interested in being part of the Church in a VR Bar, text me at (484) 324-8724 (4THECHURCH). Also, keep an eye out for Joey on Metaverse Church NEXT to learn more about church in a VR Bar. And don’t miss him on Wednesday, October 19, 2022, at 12:30 pm Eastern on Exponential’s Hub.
In June 2000, Jeff led his first online Bible study, taking 75 people from around the world through the book of James using a text-based system called Ultimate BB. He was doing digital ministry way before it was cool. Founding THECHURCH.DIGITAL in 2018, Jeff’s passions have evolved into helping churches (and individuals, too!) find their calling through digital discipleship, releasing people on digital mission, and planting multiplying digital churches. This pursuit will expand as Jeff (and others) create the DigitalChurch.Network, an organic, decentralized network for digital expressions of church globally. Jeff also serves as the director of Metaverse Church NEXT for Leadership Network and works closely with Exponential and other globally facing, multiplication-friendly, gospel-centric organizations. Jeff married his high school sweetheart, Amy, and has two kids and a dog. They live in Miami, Florida.