Dear Staff Brethren,
We have become aware of a forum on the Internet that is being operated
by some of the brethren. This forum is for â€œmembers onlyâ€? and was intended
to be an encouragement to one another in their spiritual life. As some of us
have been monitoring the discussions, it has caused us to have serious
concerns. We really question if the use of the Internet for something like this
would have support of the church. We are coming to you because it is our
understanding that you would have one or more member(s) from your
congregation who are on this forum.
Some of the reasons for our concern are:
1) Permission to use the Internet was initially given for business; at first
permission was given reluctantly for those who could no longer
operate without it. It was never intended to be for entertainment or
personal enjoyment. It appears there is a degree of using the forum for
fellowship and enjoyment, doing something a little risky unbeknownst
to others, and enjoyment in being online. Could the time these
brethren spend on the discussion forum be spent more profitably with
their families? Are they being deprived of time that should really be
spent with the family?
2) Handles are used by some of the brethren on the forum instead of real
names. Why do they prefer the anonymity? Why not always use full
names? Does this open the door to say things they would not say at
home in their own congregation? Would they be open about the forum
and their participation with their home ministers or revival ministers?
Have they discussed this with you? If not, why not? The need for
shielding means something. What does it mean?
3) Why not share and seek fellowship and share our concerns with our
own brethren at home who know us? Why is it easier to share at a
distance? This online forum facilitates a gathering of people who
think alike without knowing each other well enough to see the needs
in each otherâ€™s lives.
4) There is a shallowness that is coming from quite a few of the posts.
Some of the comments on the discussion forum reflect questions
about the church, the ministry, or church discipline, and there is an
apparent lack of depth in conviction. At the same time some of these
brethren consider themselves spiritual brethren in their congregations.
Will God bless this forum, and will it advance true spirituality? It
seems to us like there has rather been a deterioration in some of the
brethren with a critical and faultfinding spirit against the church. As
we all know, this can be fertile ground for deception, and we wonder
if there has already been some of this.
We have felt to share this concern with you, our fellow staff brethren,
that the church may remain pure and our brethren can prosper in their
Christian lives. We know it will be a matter of concern to you and you will
know the best way to share and help in a gentle way. We have no objection
to your sharing the above points with the brethren who may be involved.
It should be noted that the forum seems to have 20-30 members. We have
not been able to identify all of them, but we are sending this letter to all the
congregations where it is known that there is participation. Not all of the
discussion group members have been equally active, and we have not
noticed any contribution from several of the members. However, some of the
brethren who are part of the discussion forum have been quite involved. The
topics under discussion have ranged from inspirations of various ones to
discussion threads on church discipline, the authority of the church,
technology, and fellowship. Not all of the discussions have been critical, but
some of the discussions show a propensity for independent thinking that
questions rather than accepts. Some of the comments on the forum leave us
with questions about the spirit behind the contribution. We observe that the
members show a varying degree of confidence in the church, and one of our
concerns is that it seems they are picking up new members.
Yours in Christ,
The Technology Committee