The Future: Sunday School over the Web?

Monday 17th July, 2006
Face to face Sunday School will be common and effective for the forseeable future.  But new possibilities are springing up almost daily.  Having completed an internet-enhanced doctoral program in 2003, I see possibilities for communication, training, and even Sunday School over the internet.

Yes, yes, I have heard many of the arguments against it.  People are lonely.  Life change takes place best in person.  Also, since communication is 93% nonverbal, much communication will be misunderstood over the web.  Despite these and scores more reasons against Sunday School over the web, please hear me out.

My experience would differ with this sentiment.  Before I ever met my doctoral cohort of 16 others, I had seen their pictures and read their postings for over 10 weeks.  I knew them by name when I saw them in person for the first time.  I had heard their prayer requests and had prayed for them by name.  We had discussed some serious issues in an encouraging manner and had learned to trust one another.  We held one another accountable to keep our commitments.

As far as understanding our communication, I found that those who needed longer to think before responding had the time they needed.  When we were not sure what was being said or the intent, we were able to use emoticons and ask for clarification.  Despite being such a diverse group, we came to care for one another deeply.  Now, that sounds like many of the characteristics that I would like to find in a face to face class.

I am hearing reports of classes by phone, over the web (usually asynchronous), and by instant messaging/group chats.  The technology is affordable and available and users are more comfortable with it.  Would it not be better to gather a scattered class through an electronic medium than for them never to gather?  How could this medium allow us to study common areas of biblical interest with individuals from throughout the church, community, country, or world?  There are pitfalls.  Name them.  There are advantages.  Which do you see?

Cobweb.jpg     Share your questions and issues about and experiences with this revolutionary possibility.  Press the comment button below and leave your thoughts with those who will follow.  Hum, clear the cobwebs.  Come to think about it, we may be experiencing a taste of being stretched through an electronic medium right now.  :-)

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