GRAPEVINE, Texas (BP)–Ed Young is a technology-driven preacher who preaches to a technology-driven congregation. So it was not a major surprise when Fellowship Church decided to broadcast the recent baptisms of 170 people live on the Internet.
“Baptism is a real thing for us,” said the 39-year-old pastor of this suburban Dallas congregation. “It is a time for celebration. It’s a time for a public decision. We just took it to the next level.”
Young, the senior pastor at Fellowship Church, said their world wide web baptism service may be a first, even if it did come with a 20 second delay.
More than 3,000 worshippers were present on April 1 to watch 170 members take part in the baptismal service in a program called, ‘Fools for Christ.’
“Jesus was a contemporary man in everyday life,” Young said. “Even if you read the Gospel casually, you’ll find that he used words, pictures, and symbols. That’s what we are doing here. The Internet is the future of our culture and the future of our church.”
Young called the cyberspace baptisms a “defining moment for Fellowship Church.”
Terry Storch, Fellowship’s pastor of technology, said more churches will be looking to the Internet as a medium to supplement, not supplant, the traditional services.
“While the larger churches are already doing it, the smaller ones are catching the waves too,” Storch said.
“Maybe they aren’t doing the broadcast, but they are putting their messages on the web. It’s not going to replace the church. That’s not what we want to do, but it will assist the church,” Storch added.
The website broadcasts also allow family members across the country to view the special event. “There’s no way for some of our members’ family to fly in to watch the services, so we thought it would be cool to put it on the Internet,” Young said.
The church also provides web coverage of parent-child dedications and video streams of weekend worship events. “It’s become pretty popular,” Young said.
Young said the church’s website, fconline.org, has received more than 25,000 hits each week.
Fellowship Church recently celebrated its tenth anniversary. The new church started with 150 people. Today, Young said the church averages about 10,200 worshippers on the weekends. “It’s a contemporary, Bible teaching church,” Young said.
The church is currently involved in a marketing program that promotes the Fellowship website, including a rather unusual sign on the roof of the sanctuary. “We are on the flight path of Dallas Fort Worth International Airport, so we decided to paint our logo on top of the church roof so folks flying into and out of the airport will hear about the church,” Young said.
In the coming weeks the innovative pastor said the website will be revamped to provide the congregation with email services, news, sports, weather, and entertainment reports.
“We want people to be able to get any information they want from the site,” Young said. “The key is presenting the gospel through what we do.”