The church that isn’t closing its doors – BBC World Service

published on July 12, 2020

We're kind of one church in many metaversesIf you go to church, you probably go by car, public transport, maybe you even walk thereBut today, I'm going by something a little differentI'm going by a VR headset because this church happens in virtual realityIn nearly an hour's time, I'm going to VR ChurchHow do I get there is the questionHi Pastor DJ!

How are you? Hey everyone!No flying today!Some people have come obviously looking like how they would dress in real lifeThere are a couple of robots here as wellHey Sophia, nice to see you Thanks for coming todayThank you It's the first time I've ever been to a service with a flying preacher

Sometime we do crazy things One day it was the summer of 2016 and I was blown away Iwas like man, look at this this worldin 360' And in that moment I thought 'youknow what I'd like to do, it'd be fun tostart a church here' It's just awhim of a thought We startedout with just a handful ofpeople using this one service and thenmany people from Europe were like 'Pastorwe love VR Church but it's like oneor two in the morning' so we expanded to

VR Church Europe And then manypeople were fromNew Zealand and Asian countries saying'We want to be a part of VR Church'We probably have several hundred peoplethat are part of the church Ourvision is to spread our love toestablish these faith communities acrossdifferent time zones but not just timezones, metaverses So AltSpace is a metaverse,it's like a virtual city There's afew other ones called Rec Room and VR Chat

And they're populated like virtualcities you can kind of think of it likeParis and London and Tokyo and we wantto plant churches in these differentvirtual citiesI'm really passionate to help people who can'totherwise find a community And then alsoI have a three-year-old and a five-year-oldand I don't think their attentionspans would do well here

So worshiping as a family, that's somethingthat we that we still do in thephysical church as wellDo you attend physical church as well as VR church?I do not I'm actually one of thosepeople that are physically disabled andconfined to my homeSo yes I only attend hereWhere are you from?

I'm from the NetherlandsHow long have you been coming to VR Church?This is actually my first time It is a very newexperience for me because I'm used tophysical churches but I have autism andI'm really really sensitive to soundsand all people around me Right now Ithink most people are muted so you don'thear all the sounds around you so it's

Way less tiring and that's really niceI have to say, that I like to think I am digitally quite advanced This was my first time in a headsetand it did take quite a long time to set everything up, get to grips with thingsAnd now I'm here and I've spent about an hour or two in the experience I'm feeling comfortableBut do you think there is a big technological leap that people have to make that they might be put off by?Yes absolutely At the birth of anytechnology there's going to be that

Period of time where it's earlyadopters, early innovators In thediffusion of this technology we'realready seeing these leaps and boundsinto form factor, price, where it'sgoing to make it more accessibleAll that technology is being worked on -billions of dollars being spent atGoogle, Apple, Facebook, to create anexperience and I don't even thinkwe've seen the full fruition of whatthat technology is going to be, I think

We're just starting

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