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Question: What makes a gathering “church”? What are the elements that turn a gathering into a church meeting? Is it “church” when I have coffee with two Christian students? Is a Bible study “church”?

There was quite the dustup at Christianity Today’s Out of Ur blog this week over Douglas Estes’ article on virtual churches, and this article emerges out of his new book: SimChurch: Being the Church in the Virtual World
. I include his concluding paragraph, but I’ve got these two questions first:

Do you think “virtual” church is “real” church? Or, what makes connections, gatherings, etc into “real” church?

The good news for the world today is that virtual churches, Baptist churches, banana-tree churches, underground churches, Lutheran churches, communal churches, house churches, and yes, even tragically-hip Pacific Northwest alternative ‘pub’ churches are real churches. You may not want to meet in synthetic space–and I would not want to meet in a bar–but it doesn’t change the fact that when the people of God meet together for the purpose of glorifying Him, it’s a real church. Online churches are real churches with real people in real relationships with a real God simply meeting in synthetic spaces.

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