Into the Metaverse!
On Thursday, October 29th, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that the Corporate name "Facebook" will be rebranded to the name "Meta". The Facebook social media platform will NOT change name, just the corporate name. So, Facebook and Instagram will be staying the same, just under the new Meta Corporate branding.
But why the change in name to Meta? Mark said that the company's future will focus on building virtual reality products and that he hopes to connect users through a different medium. He wants people to be connected through the metaverse.
So what is the metaverse and is it anything close to the Spider-verse or multi-verse that Marvel comic and movie fans are thinking about? Not exactly.
While much of the metaverse is unknown still, NPR described it like this. "Think of it as the internet brought to life, or at least rendered in 3D. Zuckerberg has described it as a "virtual environment" you can go inside of — instead of just looking at on a screen. Essentially, it's a world of endless, interconnected virtual communities where people can meet, work and play, using virtual reality headsets, augmented reality glasses, smartphone apps or other devices."
In other words, think of it like Virtual Reality. At least, what we know as virtual reality right now. Virtual reality is nothing new as it has been around for years. It is a simulated experience which mimics real world experiences. You can visit someone's home virtually, listen to someone speak or have discussions virtually and you can even watch movies virtually.
So, what does the development of this metaverse or expand virtual reality world mean for the Church? How does this apply?
For starters, I believe Meta's venture into the metaverse legitimizes VR Church and ministry. For years people, including ministers, have downplayed the impact of VR and VR Church for years now. People like DJ Soto and Jate Earhart were looked at as not doing real ministry even though people are connecting in that space and are having their lives changed. So now, the Church has to take this a little bit more seriously and look into it more. I'm not saying they have to invest tons of money and resources to it, but with Meta now focusing on it, it will become more and more mainstream.
Secondly, it provides more ministry opportunities. VR Pastors and ministers have been ministering in this space for years now, much to the dismissiveness of traditional ministry leaders. Online ministry was non-traditional enough for traditional minsters to accept, how could VR be real ministry? But the reality is with more and more people in this space and more companies like Meta, Apple and Amazon venturing in VR, there is a real ministry opportunity for Churches to look at.
Lastly, Online Ministry is here to stay and the Churches that don't invest in this area won't be. As more and more Churches are going back to in person gatherings there are some Churches who are abandoning their online efforts of the past 2 years. That is a mistake. Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z are well verse online and because of the coronavirus even Boomers have become more familiar and comfortable with online tools and programs. With so much integration over the past 2 years of people and businesses being more online, it just highlights that online ministry was not something we did over Covid. It is here to stay.
Meta's announcement just changed the game for ministries. Whether you are a believer in online ministry or not, it is simply not going away. In fact, it is only getting more integrated into peoples lives and the way corporations do business. Churches can either choose to ignore this or invest more into it. Churches are notorious for being behind the curve on these trends. Let's run with all the digital progress we've made over the past few years and continue to look for fresh ways to minister and serve people who are actively looking for Christ. The more we can engaged them and minster to them on their turf, virtual reality or in real life, the more likely they will experience Christ and grow in their faith.
What do you think? What do you think the metaverse means to your ministry or Church? Share your ideas below or on social media.
Also, if you are interested in being a Digital Missionary or want to learn digital tools to expand your reach in ministry this year, join the Digital Bootcamp Facebook Group!