In the New Testament, at least three aspects of church are seen: local, universal, and eschatological. Of these three, local receives the most discussion. In Paul, for example, local church seems to refer both to all the Christians in a city (see the first verses of nearly every letter) and to a body of Christians meeting in a particular house (see Col. 4:15).
In both cases–the city and the house–there is high probability for embodied interaction. In such settings, learning, training, and spiritual formation can take place in ordinary life.
But what happens when we gather outside of ordinary life (on the web, for example)? It seems to me that dialogue, sharing stories and knowledge, can lead to true learning, but outside of ordinary life together, can we work together in ways that train us with the skills to walk God’s ways and carry out his mission? Can we get a sufficient sense of one anothers’ character to provide the sorts of exhortation and encouragement that facilitate spiritual formation?
What do you think?