I’ve heard it, time and time again: “The Church has no business in the metaverse.” Virtual reality is filled with dark spaces… sin. Mental health issues abound in the metaverse. Yes, there is legitimate fear that in many ways virtual reality will become better than reality, and we need to be cautious about these things. What’s interesting here, of course, is that the enemy isn’t hesitating to engage the metaverse. He’s attacking it full-swing.
Altspace VR (AltVR) is one of the more popular virtual reality worlds. Acquired by Microsoft pre-COVID, AltVR has become a place where community, and events, are happening regularly. A few churches even exist in this space. Through Metaverse Church NEXT we’ve had conversations with Jason Poling and DJ Soto, two pastors who lead two separate VR churches in this AltspaceVR virtual reality world. While some would question if God can move in the metaverse, these two are seeing God move in big ways. But, unfortunately, we see the enemy moving as well.
Today, March 16, because I have an account with AltVR, I received a promotional email from Altspace VR basically inviting me to a series of events that are happening in the Altspace virtual reality world over the coming week. And, while a game of virtual reality hide and seek does sound intriguing, I was honestly a little surprised to see Altspace VR promote a tarot reading in virtual reality.
So, let’s unpack this. Altspace VR, a company owned by Microsoft, just invited every person who has an Altspace VR account, to come get a tarot card reading in the metaverse.
To be honest, my response is outrage. I was actually in a video conferencing meeting with some of my teammates when I got this email and I started yelling at the camera. I got emotional quickly. Let me unpack:
I’m not mad at Microsoft. It’s a secular company. They don’t know any better, and to be honest I doubt anyone in leadership had any vetting of events sent out in a weekly virtual reality email.
I’m not really mad at AltVR. From a non-Christian perspective, this event could be interesting. Even in 2022 people are infatuated with spiritual things, and hearing about how this organization is crossing over “traditional” actions like tarot readings with modern technology like the metaverse. I bet the event is popular, and will be a front door to more events like this.
I’m not even mad at the organization hosting the tarot cards. Now, I don’t agree with their spiritual perspective and would challenge the theology and possibly the motivation behind organizations like this. To be honest, I’m not sure I’m even mad at Satan. I expect him to flex his muscles in the metaverse. I’m sure this is just the beginning.
Simply, I’m mad at us, the church. Maybe mad isn’t the right word. I’m frustrated by today’s church leaders. Sure, there are leaders that are pioneering in this space. And they are increasing slowly as I see and hear that more are experimenting. But while the church is questioning whether Virtual Reality is a universe worth exploring, if these communities are worthy of a church, or even if engaging as if a mission field… the enemy has latched onto the potential where even major corporations are (if even unwittingly) playing a part in leading people astray.
Church, we’re at a crossroads. Historically, the Church has been very behind on adopting technology and engaging culture. And through something even as subtle as a tarot reading in a virtual reality world, we’re seeing a subtle way the enemy is using this new tool to engage in this new metaverse culture… and this isn’t the only way, either.
The metaverse is filled with dark places, no one is questioning that. In the metaverse, sin is crouching at the door, ready to devour (Genesis 4:7). The metaverse needs churches, needs missionaries, needs people to enter the battlefield, I mean mission field, and turn the tide. I would suggest that Christ’s words ring true, even in the metaverse: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).
Church, let’s bring Christ’s fullness to the metaverse. Learn more about the metaverse mission field, and the metaverse church, over on Metaverse Church NEXT, Leadership Network’s Live Show happening Wednesday’s 12:30pm Eastern, over on Exponential’s Hub.
Jeff is the founder of the thechurch.digital and serves as the content director of Leadership Network’s Metaverse Church NEXT. With about 20 years experience serving the church in the digital/technological realm, Jeff loves working with churches. As passionate about discipleship as he is technology, Jeff uses his passion to help Churches develop technology systems to bring people far from God closer to him.