Church, Meet the Metaverse Mission Field
Sure, we can argue about the ecclesiology of a church in virtual reality. There are some points of conversation there. These will all get worked out over time. But we cannot argue about the missional opportunities inside virtual reality; there’s nothing to discuss. The implications of the metaverse mission field are enormous.
There are some fascinating recent stats centered around the church and virtual reality. Transparently, I seriously questioned the legitimacy of one of these stats, but as I dug into the backstory, I recognized the truth.
While many churches have been ignoring digital/metaverse communities for ministry purposes, a growing percentage is beginning to recognize the potential.
Pushpay’s “State of the Church Technology Report” addresses the idea of physical churches planting digital or metaverse churches. According to Pushpay, 25% of US-based physical churches are interested in planting a church in virtual reality, and 20% are interested in planting a digital church. Initially, this is very surprising to me. However, 2023 is bringing a severe pivot for the church: while many churches have been ignoring digital/metaverse communities for ministry purposes, a growing percentage is beginning to recognize the potential.
To date, I’ve had many conversations centered around digital/metaverse church. There are lots of questions. To be honest, in 2023, I don’t have legitimate answers for some of them. But no one can argue the legitimacy of the metaverse mission field. We’re having conversations with atheists and agnostics in virtual reality. Satanists and neopagans are finding Christ in virtual church services. Suicidal and depressed people are finding the joy of Christ while in avatar form, impacting their physical lives as well.
Welcome to the metaverse mission field!
We Want to Take Your Church on the Metaverse Mission Field
At Digital Church Network, we’re not using the term mission field metaphorically; we’re speaking quite literally. In fact, Relevant Magazine did a write-up about one of our metaverse mission trips hosted by River City Church. DCN, in partnership with Leadership Network (here in the US) and GACX (globally), is offering to help churches like yours host a metaverse mission trip!
Now, your church understands what a traditional mission trip entails: Your church decides to go to Bolivia. You buy a plane ticket which will cost you $1,000. You’ll probably have to pay for hotel and food, update your passport, get a visa, and spend a week or so training. You’ll probably pay $1,500-$2,000 for the international mission trip and miss a week of work. Of course, the impact of a physical mission trip is incredible. You’re engaging in the local community, doing tangible, physical ministry on the street… maybe even helping out physical churches in the area.
But what if we treated the metaverse the same way?
- What if, instead of a plane ticket, you bought a headset?
- What if you looked at virtual reality the same way you looked at Bolivia? As a community that needed Jesus?
- What if you engaged in that community? Built relationships? Friendships?
- What if, through these friendships, you shared Jesus?
- What if, over the course of a month, you became a metaverse missionary?
- What if God used you in virtual reality to change a life? Change your life?
The fact is that we can travel to Bolivia and learn about the Bolivian culture. Or, we can go into the metaverse, engage in virtual reality, and meet the world from our living room. Virtual reality technology is designed to allow people like you to talk with people from all over the world! Why not embrace the metaverse mission field and go on a mission trip to the metaverse?
Here in the US, Leadership Network is hosting a learning community built around the metaverse mission trip, helping churches better understand what virtual reality ministry is. We hope to see 250 people in 2023 go on mission in virtual reality, spending 20-40 hours over the span of a month, and plant 10 churches in virtual reality this year. These learning communities will happen in the fall of 2023, offering churches an opportunity to explore the metaverse, find how it fits into their mission/vision, and even recruit and develop volunteers who can run the church in virtual reality.
What if, instead of a plane ticket, you bought a headset?
The VR and the Metaverse cohort (learning community) is facilitated by Leadership Network’s director of Metaverse Church Next, Jeff Reed (me). As the author of VR & The Metaverse Church, as well as Sharing Jesus Online, God uniquely positioned me to help people understand the possibilities of relational evangelism in virtual reality. Also helping to facilitate the Learning Community is Stuart McPherson, metaverse pastor for Lakeland Church. Lakeland was one of the first physical churches to engage in digital virtual reality ministry, and Stuart is a resident expert in helping physical churches transition into metaverse ministry. In addition, through Digital Church Network, Lakeland Church wants to help plant 100 churches in virtual reality as we continue to not only evangelize the metaverse but disciple it as well. Stuart and I jumped on his Metaverse Church Podcast to talk about the learning community, the mission trip, and the metaverse ministry implications for the future church.
Take Your First Steps Towards Metaverse Ministry in a Learning Community
So, are you ready to dive into the metaverse mission field? Is your church interested in hosting a metaverse mission trip? Check out Leadership Network’s VR and the Metaverse cohort, and let’s help your church discover what ministry looks like in virtual reality.