Reflection by Stewart Perry

I learnt a new term this week that tries to explain what Church is needing to be or become in the world in which we live – ‘Phygital Church’. Church needs to be both Physical and Digital and in the trend of combining 2 names together someone came up with the term ‘Phygital Church’. 

This coming Sunday we take another step in the journey of ‘Phygital Church’ by live-streaming the 7:30am service as well as the 9:30am service and making some other subtle changes like preaching live from the church building instead of pre-recording some elements of the service as we have been doing.

We are also beginning our first ever Alpha Course that will be hosted Online. Josh Evans (from our 9:30am Congregation) and my wife Leanne will be the hosts for this new adventure.

A new series begins this Sunday which will explore the challenges and opportunities we face in both this season and this new landscape in showing and sharing God’s love and presence. You can find more information about this series attached to our weekly email newsletter. This series will be ‘phygital’.

One of the biggest challenges, which I think is also an opportunity is: How do we gather together in a phygital world. The Christian faith is at its very essence an incarnation faith – which means we see our faith brought to life in each other. The word ‘Church’ is derived from a Greek word which literally means “the gathered ones”. 

But right at the moment it’s really challenging to gather both physically and digitally. 

The personal nature of screens these days doesn’t naturally lend itself to the ‘gathered’ experience. I do know some in our church who are watching on the big screen with others but it’s a bit hard to share your iPhone screen with your whole household – especially when you are the only one in that household.

For those who have gathered physically, you will have noticed some major changes and challenges. You can’t (or at least you shouldn’t under the COVID safe industry plan) stand or sit close enough to another person to have a long meaningful conversation, to actually spend quality time with those with whom you gather. That cranky minister keeps telling people to sit down and not move around doesn’t he!

All of this is causing us to respond in 2 different ways. 1) get disillusioned and give up or 2) get innovative and find another way. I do know there are both responses well represented in our church community. I understand both and I also have felt the urge for each response stronger from time to time on a personal level.

My encouragement is obviously going to be to pursue the 2nd way of responding. It is what I think Jesus would do, it is what we are called to do and I think it is a more Godly response. But I do understand the reluctance and resistance to change, I do miss the way things were done, I do wish it wasn’t this way. But it is and we are called to “Go therefore…” (Matthew 28). Church was always meant to be dynamic and so gathering should reflect that.

The more of us that are committed to finding ‘another way’, the more we will actually find that we have others to ‘gather’ with. It is Church but not as we’ve known it… I hope and pray that it will actually be better, more rewarding, more present and more gathered in our phygital future.


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