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Pastor uses Internet as her pulpit, gathering place

The Rev. Jacqui King, pastor of a new church organizing in Houston called Nu Faith Community United Methodist Church, uses the Internet to preach and connect with members of the virtual church. A UMNS photo courtesy of the Rev. Jacqui King.

A UMNS Report
By Linda Green*

Oct. 3, 2007

The pastor of a newly created United Methodist church in Houston is using the Internet as her pulpit and gathering place until a physical building is constructed.

Nu Faith Community United Methodist Church, created last June by the Texas Annual (regional) Conference, exists now at www.nufaith.org. The Rev. Jacqui King uses the Internet to preach, evangelize and provide ministry and to solidify a community of faith within a virtual experience.

"Nu Faith is really an opportunity to experience God in a brand new way in a brand new faith community," King said. "It is also a chance to just make disciples for Jesus Christ in a different kind of way."

King says there are people wanting to know God who have visited churches, but they did not stay because they found those congregations lacking in energy, passion and technology. "Nu Faith is a way for people to allow God to meet them right where they are," she said. "At Nu Faith, I want to be able to help them encounter God today."

The Internet allows King and a 25-member core group of wired individuals to connect with others and introduce them to the Nu Faith community. A semimonthly e-mail newsletter, called e-connection, provides information about the church, its ministry and plans.

Building on technology

Nu Faith "is a creative way to experience God through interactive expressions of love, grace and hope, which use many diverse technological formats," King said. "Virtual church helps us to reach people who are living up the street and around the world while sharing the love of Jesus Christ online."

The church will be launched next April 6 in a temporary location before a building is constructed on a 10-acre site in northwest Houston. The new church's vision is to promote peace, grace, mercy and love and be a community of believers who will pray together, worship, serve and study.

King says many churches have a presence on the World Wide Web; however, the Internet was not how those churches came into existence. "The Web was either … added after the fact or something else," said King. "They are not looking for it to be the DNA or the primary structure of the church. We are looking for technology to be our strength and major element."

"People can find everything on the Web -- love, money, jobs. Why take Jesus out of that equation if the Scripture says our God is everywhere?"
--The Rev. Jacqui King

In addition to promoting the new church on the Web, a Bible study is conducted online and at King's home.

A "Living into Our Faith" study of the Book of James began Aug. 30. On the first and third Thursdays at 6:30 p.m., "A Study at the House" explores a passage from James. At 8:45 p.m., the study goes online and is interactive.

"It is like having a talk show," King said. People can plug in though a site called TalkShoe, listen and talk, or they can listen to the entire taped program after the online study ends at 9:30. "It is growing," she said.

The virtual Bible study is a response to people ages 24-45, young families and those who cannot attend traditional Bible studies.

King also provides weekly audio and Web site reflections.

Reaching young adults

King says a virtual-faith experience is a way to reach a generation that is not connected to any church. She says there are many reasons for the absence of young adults in many traditional Protestant denominations, but among them is "churches and members having not helped the Word become relevant to where they are."

King said many traditional churches are "Sunday only" while the Nu Faith virtual church is everyday. A person seeking a reflection, a word or to express a concern can go to nufaith.org any time for spiritual formation. "It makes God present and real where they are," King said.

Because the Internet is an avenue that people use to make social connections today, King believes God is calling the church to make e-connections for spiritual growth.

"If I am a person living in the 21st century and technology is part of every aspect of my life, why would I ignore that in building up my spirituality? … People can find everything on the Web –– love, money, jobs. Why take Jesus out of that equation if the Scripture says our God is everywhere?"

Nu Faith is one of 13 churches to be started by the Texas Annual Conference in the coming year. Churches are to be established in Tyler, Port Arthur and Houston. Several of the new church starts target specific demographics such as young adults, ex-prisoners and Hispanics.

Efforts to build new congregations in Texas are part of Path One, a United Methodist Board of Discipleship initiative seeking to help The United Methodist Church start 650 new churches by 2012. The new emphasis on church growth is a return to the church's evangelistic effort to begin a new congregation every day.

*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.

News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

Audio: The Rev. Jacqui King on:

What Nu Faith Community United Methodist Church is doing

Reaching people through new avenues

The role of the virtual church

God calling the church to use the Internet

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NuFaith Community United Methodist Church

Texas Annual Conference

United Methodism 101

The Book of Discipline on Information Communications Technology

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