A tech pastor in Miami, Florida, is launching a virtual reality worship experience “in a digital replica of Miami’s oldest organized congregation,” according to The Christian Post.
Christopher Benek is the pastor of First Miami Presbyterian Church. He is also the CEO of CoCreators, a technology-based nonprofit organization. Benek believes virtual reality can be used to introduce gamers and others to Christ.
The creation of CHVRCH+ (Church Plus) enables the 5.7 billion people who are online to be reached with the Gospel. The platform, however, will not replace the “assembling together” the Bible speaks about.
“I think that it is important to understand that creation of CHVRCH+ is not to displace the local congregation,” Benek said. “It is meant to be an additional complement to the existing physical church.”
Benek emphasizes that both the digital and virtual spaces belong to God. He says that when Christ says to “make disciples of all nations” he was also including the digital ones.
“We are on the very front end of Virtual Technologies” Benek says. “But if people are gathering in these spaces then the church needs to be reaching them. The potential for evangelism and ministry is enormous.”
He also noted that virtual realities are not only a means to escape life. Instead, they help Christians see the “new possibilities that might exist in Jesus.”
“God is the Creator of the cosmos. Certainly, we are not so prideful as to assume that we know all of the ways that God might reveal [Himself] to us?”
Many churches do not know how to react to COVID-19. Local and federal “stay-at-home” orders have left many church leaders scrambling to find solutions to continue church services while also encouraging community. But Benek says the coronavirus pandemic has also allowed pastors to experiment with new ways of doing ministry.
“We want churches to have new ways of engaging community online… while also allowing for the expression of the creativity. We know that COVID-19 will eventually pass,” Benek says. “But… the coming automation crisis will not have an end.”
His new church technology allows congregations to think about digitally expanding their ministries.
“People want the pastors to talk about tech more because it is impacting their greater sense of ultimate meaning. If there was ever a time for pastors to do so, it is right now,” Benek says.