By Rev. Deb Phelps, pastor
One of the Disciples’ more unusual church plants, DisciplesNet Church, is three years old and not matter where you are, if you have a connection to the Internet you can drop in for a visit. Directions to the church are not complicated. All you need to do to attend is make a couple of computer clicks to reach the address: www.disciplesnet.org. It is “a church on the Internet highway with walls as wide as the world, doors that are always open, and always room at the table,” says Rev. Deb Phelps, founding pastor.
This web-based church creates a new worship video each week, about 30 minutes long. It includes singing, prayer, scripture, a short message, and communion. Indiana Regional Minister Rev. Rick Spleth delivered the message for the third anniversary special Nov. 14.
The church adds to the video library each week with song, scripture, personal stories, teaching, and seasonal specials. These are free for any person or church group to use.
“Offering the videos is a bit like our food pantry,” says Phelps. “We see where the need is in the community around us–people traveling the internet–and what we have to give. This is just a small part of our offering to the world.”
So far, DisciplesNet has connected with people in over 160 countries, with people in more than 30 countries connecting with them on a typical week.
But DisciplesNet Church is not just about videos. It has a growing community, including an active Facebook page. “We like to involve those who connect with us in circles, chats, Skypes, and e-mails, where we pray with each other, offer support, and share ideas for the ministry. This includes people all over the world, including in countries that don’t have so many Christians,” Phelps adds.
Phelps explains, “We are NOT here to replace physical churches. Nothing on the Internet can compare with physical church attendance, the sharing of hugs, joys, sorrows, work and worship together. Yet, it is important to realize that not everyone has that option.” Phelps says that DisciplesNet came into being after she and some team members sensed God’s call to be there for persons not able to attend a physical church, either for a single occasion, or all time.
And since DisciplesNet does have its resources available, they hope to add a little extra spiritual boost to anyone who comes their way, perhaps in the middle of the night when they can’t sleep and churches aren’t open. Sometimes the pastor and church staff need their own time just to participate in worship and be fed, and DisciplesNet is there for them, too. Some house churches have also discovered DisciplesNet and meet together for prayer or Bible study, then watch worship together.