In this inaugural episode of the Future Church Podcast, host Todd Wilson (President & CEO, Exponential) talks to DJ Soto about Virtual Reality Church. The immersive capabilities of virtual reality have created a unique opportunity to create loving spiritual communities for a new type of mission field the world has never seen before.
In 2016, DJ Soto experimented with church in VR. In 2017, he established the first church to exist in VR. The heart of his ministry is church planting, therefore they continue to plant churches in various “virtual reality cities.”
It is important that the Church is the first to technology, to spread the love of Jesus to the ends of the earth. As Christians, we need to allow ourselves to explore and experiment with new technology so we can create new avenues for people to meet Christ.
Future Church Insights:
1. DJ talks about what the “metaverse” is:
He defines the “metaverse” as a virtual reality digital universe that exists online. DJ notes that the uniqueness is that people can completely live their lives online in the metaverse community – it is the idea of collective virtual shared spaces and which is different from things that we’ve seen in the past.
2. DJ also addresses if community can be formed in VR:
DJ points out that when you experience community in a VR type of way, it is at a different level of connection than other online platforms. There’s this real relationship, real community.
3. How does VR add to the church experience?
DJ points out that while church has typically been operating out of the information age, VR allows for church to become more experiential. Through VR church, he notes that scriptures have been able to imprint at a different level. “Particularly with new believers” who have doubt in their experience with scripture, VR allows for a more experiential tactical way to experience their faith because “the scripture is all around them and the stories all around them”.
Goals and Desired Outcomes of Virtual Reality Church
1. To be a church-planting movement in the metaverse.
2. Empower people with their spiritual gifts and think of creative ways to express those gifts virtually.
3. Move the “church” from the Information Age to the Experience Age.
More of a reader? Download the transcription here.
Quotes from DJ Soto:
“There’s a sense of authenticity that I’ve never experienced before. And I think that has been a very powerful part of the ministry of VR church is people have been able to come in to be who they are not be judged by, let’s say weight or, you know, race or whatever, and they’re able to interact in their authentic selves…They try to keep who they are in the physical world.”
“Well, I think about that verse where it says where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them. And at the core, if we have two or three in some remote virtual city gathered in the name of Christ and worship and prayer, discipleship and all those things and, we’ve just formed a church there.”