With the rate of ”Black Sundays” we have been having in Nigeria in recent times, and the amount of church goers that have died due to Church bomb blasts, Online worship as an alternative may be the way forward for Christians in the North as the country continues to battle the terrorists.
In times past, Christians looked forward to Sunday, the day set aside for worship.
Everyone-men, women and children-reserved their best clothes for Sunday services and everyone came out looking their best.
But this is no longer the case; Sundays are now a nightmare for many Nigerians and are looked forward to with apprehension as a result of the growing insecurity and terrorist activities in the country which appear to be targeted at Christians in the North especially.
Over the last one year, there has been hardly any Sunday that passed without reports of bomb attacks in churches in the northern part of the country.
But since the beginning of June, it has become a recurring decimal-happening every Sunday.
Perhaps this is what has informed the growth of online churches, especially amongst the Pentecostal worshippers where churches can now broadcast services live on the World Wide Web. This type of Internet broadcasting is commonly known as live video streaming or webcasting.
The online church is a purely Internet activity whereby members of a church can follow church services live on the Internet through live streaming, YouTube and other Internet fora such as downloading church podcasts.
The scheduled services are streamed live and users can watch sermons without registering or can register and engage in conversations with other users. On some church websites, there are opportunities to virtually raise hand and answer questions by the Internet minister
This operates in such a way that rather than appear physically in church, worshippers can log onto the church’s website and participate in the church activity.
To do live streaming, a church requires a website, a camera, a computer, a media server and Internet bandwidth, and experts say it doesn’t cost much: with about N200,000, churches can commence live streaming of church services.
The worship method has attained a level of sophistication that offertory is also collected online through the Internet banking platform where a worshipper can pay directly into the church’s account using their credit card.
There are, however, a few churches in Nigeria that have adopted this method of worship, among them Daystar Christian Centre, David’s Christian Centre and Christ Embassy Church.
This mode of worship was originally designed for frequent travellers who hardly have the time to go to church or those who prefer to worship at a particular church even when they are far from that location as well as those who just feel lazy and prefer to remain under the covers rather than go to church.
Others are those incapacitated by ill-health or those wishing to attend or become members of a church who may want to have a preview of their services.
With the growing insecurity and killings of Christians in churches every Sunday, many Christians, especially those in metropolitan cities where these acts of violence are most prominent, may be turning to this mode of worship.
But can this really be a solution especially for churches that have certain doctrines that require physical presence?
In the Catholic Church, for instance, there are certain integral parts of the Mass, such as Holy Communion which require the physical presence of the worshipper.
But with the rate of church bomb blasts every Sunday in Northern Nigeria, online worship appears to be the safer means of Sunday worship, a quick reminder, i am not in any way discouraging Christian’s that live in Northern from attending churches on Sunday, but while they do, a great deal of attention should be paid on security.