Rawlings School of Divinity


Doctor of Philosophy


Jeffrey M. Davis


internet, virtual, online, church, leaders, Christian, community


Christianity | Leadership Studies


Current events and relatively recent technological developments have caused and significantly increased the use of digital technology in most aspects of life. The digital revolution, as some have termed it, has permeated all organizations, from businesses to institutions of higher learning, including religious institutions. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to determine Christian church leaders’ perspectives on whether the internet church fulfills the biblical and theological definitions of the church or biblical community. At this stage in the research internet church, also known as online church, e-church, virtual church, etc., is defined as a group of people with shared beliefs and common interests who utilize the internet to connect for ministry purposes. The theory that guided this study is network theory by Campbell and Garner (2016), which explains the relationship between network theory and internet church as a biblical community. The rationale of this study is motivated by the recent increases in internet use and the recent pandemic that has impacted the church leaders’ views on the theological implications of the use of the internet for ministry purposes. This study employed a qualitative phenomenological design to understand the perspectives of a sample of three non-denominational Protestant church leaders using a qualitative open-ended online interview instrument. The data collected from the interviews were subjected to thematic analysis in which six prominent themes emerged. Based on the data collected, the study found that the biblical community extends to include internet church, internet church plays a crucial role in supplementing the traditional church, and most practices of the conventional church translate to a digital environment. The findings may be generalizable although limited to non-denominational Protestant churches on whether church leaders view internet church as a biblical community.

Available for download on Tuesday, December 19, 2023