Tuesday, January 30, 2007

On(line) Community

As some know, I am a big fan of a MMORPG (Massive-Mulitplayer-Online-Role-Playing-Game) entitled RuneScape. (Colin this is close to what you describe here.) It is loosely based on medieval theme, essentially you get to work on one of 23 different skills, and take part in many different quests and adventures. It is based entirely in JAVA, which for the computer challenged essentially means that you can play from virtually ANY computer with an internet connection (even dial up). The trade off is, however it has what some consider to be substandard graphics (read DAVE!) especially when compared to World of WarCraft, which is, to me, it's most significant competition. For me RuneScape is fun, inexpensive and the game is updated almost every week with new content, fun times for me.
So why do I share this with you, my faithful blog readers? Well, I recently joined a online group of players aged 30 and up (as you can imagine many of those who play this game are decidedly under 30). This group provides a network of people to trade items with and to do activities together. The reason I share this with you, is this group (it wasn't my fault, I promise!!) just went through a very significant division. The group had been about 350 or so, and currently it's dropped to about 244, but it also included some of the leadership. This has caused a great deal of stress and it certainly isn't the same as many of those who have stayed are upset about their friends leaving and for how everything was handled.
The fact that I'm a big geek aside, does this not remind anyone of what happens in the church? Needless to say, I don't play video games for that kind of interpersonal drama. If I want drama I'll watch ER (is that show not a little over the top recently?). Yet it was fascinating for me to see this happen outside the church. Although, it was very sad to talk with those who left. As a new member of the group, I was very much surprised at all this and had no idea what was really going on. It was stressful for me, as one of the people who introduced me to the group is now gone. While there were a lot of things that were totally unlike church in the situation (what with it being online and being all about a video game), there were some things that I did learn. These are things I won't soon forget.

  • It's difficult to sort out what's going on when you feel like you only know a handful of people. It's difficult to know who to believe when people take sides.
  • It's hard to know what to do when you like the group, but the people you knew best are gone, should I stay or should I go?
  • Your emotions that run the gamut all at the same time, you find yourself in some measure identifying with all sides.

Now truthfully, the intensity of those emotions are for me, were not nerely as intense as I have about church and serving the Lord. (For anyone reading this from that group... that is primarily due to the strength of my convictions about church life and community and the length of time I've been in the group).
In the end, it's good to know that other groups struggle with what we do, but it's sad to know that as the church we're not that different either. Did that make sense? It has given me a great deal to think about.

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