18 May Virtual Reality Church – Update
The following is a guest post from my wife, Kari Soto. We had Virtual Reality Church this past weekend, and she documented some things that happened.
I loved her write up so much, I thought it would be good for an update here on Medium.
We’ve been experimenting with the church in virtual reality for a few months. The main question we wanted to answer was, “Is it viable to have church in virtual reality?” The answer was a resounding, YES! More than we realized.
Anyways, enough of me talking, I’ll hand it over to Kari:
We are bursting at the seems today after last night’s service in Virtual Reality Church, and we can’t wait to share what’s happening with you!
DJ entered the room early to set up a couple of things, but people were already there and popped in at a steady stream until the service started. We sent all of the kids into our friends’ Brandon and Connie’s house (where we are parked) so that the trailer could be quiet, and I could assist DJ if needed. (I felt like an outsider watching this service happen. We only have one set of gear right now, so I was only hearing one side of the conversation! One of our goals is to have a headset for me later in the year.)
One of the first people to arrive was a Christian from Georgia. He offered to greet people for us as they entered the church. What an unexpected encouragement for him to show up and assist us!
“Yes, of course, atheists are allowed into the service.” — VR Pastor DJ Soto
Next, “Bob” entered the church. I heard DJ say, “Yes, of course, atheists are allowed into the service.” Another individual name “Kenny” told him that he has rejected all forms of religion since he left the church. Kenny wanted to give VR Church a chance, and when the service started he felt so moved that he decided to stay for the whole service. During the worship, Kenny said that he began to tear up.
DJ spoke on “Forget Regret”, a message that he will occasionally share in the new year or during new seasons. He spoke from Isaiah 43:18, “Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past”. “Claire” spoke up during his message and told him that she carries deep emotional scars from being bullied as a kid.
He interacted with her during the service, finished the service, then they prayed for her at the end. We wondered if she felt comfortable enough to share that piece of her life with strangers partly due to the fact that the avatars have a freedom to interact in a way that would be intimidating in a non-virtual interaction.
Many different backgrounds and walks of life were represented at last night’s service, and we had approximately 20-25 people attend. This far exceeded our expectations for a first service!
One of the guys came up to DJ and said that he didn’t really expect the service to be so meaningful and connecting. His specific quote was, “I really didn’t think you could pull it off, but you are extremely gifted in pulling this all together.”
Why Are We Here?
Our vision is to start churches where there aren’t any yet. Virtual Reality is being used to train soldiers, educate or “brain train” in the medical world, and movies are being filmed with 360* cameras. We always wonder why the church seems to be the last ones to utilize new technology. If the porn industry is already in VR, why can’t the church? We have been frustrated in the past with the church’s tendency to be late to technology. As prices continue to drop on VR equipment, and it becomes more mainstream, the Church will already be in place for those who come into the VR world. We know that 6.3 million headsets were shipped in 2016, with an estimated forecast of 171 million to be shipped in 2018. And that’s why we’re here. For those who enter the virtual reality world, there will already be an option to connect with God and share the love and hope that Jesus offers!
You guys — We are extremely grateful to you for your prayers and financial support. Thanks for playing a part in this ministry to share Jesus.