chapter  2
22 Pages

The Dis/Embodied Church: Worship, New Media and the Body

WithTim Hutchings

Online Christian communities have been describing themselves as ‘churches’ since the 1980s (Burke et al. 1999), but this category of new media activity continues to elude sociological definition. The title of ‘church’ tends to be claimed by groups

that have developed online forms of worship and prayer, but there are exceptions even to this basic observation; some churches do not worship together, and many worshipping groups do not describe themselves as church. Other common – but neither universal nor exclusive – activities include preaching, evangelism, mutual support, social conversation and debate. The title of ‘church’ may be contested even within a particular community, claimed by some and rejected by others. To be a church online is simply to do that which a church does, a matter on which Christians are unlikely to reach agreement.