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Commentary by the Rev. Taurai Emmanuel Maforo
Sept. 27, 2021 | HARARE, Zimbabwe (UM News)

Key points:

  • The shift from physical gatherings to a “church without walls” was deemed unthinkable just a few years ago, but COVID-19 lockdowns fast-tracked the practice of online ministry.
  • United Methodist Communications’ “Rethink Church” campaign inspired Maforo to pursue virtual church for his dissertation.
  • His daily devotional series now reaches thousands via social media.

Lockdowns brought on by COVID-19 have fast-tracked The United Methodist Church in the Zimbabwe Episcopal Area and beyond onto the information superhighway. This shift from physical gatherings to a “church without walls” was deemed unthinkable just a few years ago.

In 2014, I struggled to convince my supervisor to approve my dissertation topic on the possibilities of online church. While the church in Zimbabwe was making baby steps to embrace technology, the academic, business and entertainment worlds were already there and I told myself that the church must find itself within the digital space.

In partial fulfillment of my studies at United Theological College, my research topic was “Re-think church! An analysis of the impact of social media and virtual communities on the physical church.” It seemed impossible then, but the church of God now thrives on internet-based platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook and YouTube.

The decision for visioning a virtual church in my research project was inspired by three factors:

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This blog story was originally published by United Methodist News Service. To find more stories like this, the latest denominational news, and informative articles that connect our global community visit https://www.umnews.org/.

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