I’ve read the blogs.  I’ve listened to the arguments.  I had even tried it out…a little.

But I hadn’t fully experienced online community.

I would say that there has been some level of “community” developed for me through Twitter, Facebook, and blogs.  Community, for me, though, is one of those things that was always developed in person.  Sometimes it’s on a biycle, other times it’s with my small group, and other times it’s at a coffee shop with a few guys.

I unexpectedly experienced community yesterday morning after I read this update from Alan Danielson:

@alandanielson: I’m praying for NOW 10 more minutes. Reply with your prayer request or join me for live prayer via @TokBox

There was a link after the update, and I clicked on it.  There was Alan, sitting in front of his computer screen, praying for his friends.  I shared my request with him, and he prayed for me on the spot.

Alan then invited me to “hang on the line,” and he was going to invite some of his other friends into the conversation.  As the other 3 men joined, they began to share their experiences from their prayer time.  They, like Alan, had prayed for their friends during that 20 minutes, and invited people to share requests with them.  As they finished sharing their stories from the prayer time, they shared their own requests with the group.  I thought that it would be a bit cheesy, even cold-feeling because we were so far spread out across the country, looking at each other on a tiny screen.  But real, gut-wrenching requests were shared.  Nothing fake.  No masks.  No walls of separation.  Real, honest, vulnerable requests.  And it all happened while I sat in my office chair alone.

Twitter and Tokbox helped me fulfill this today:

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. -Romans 12:11-13

I felt a real burden, prayed a real prayer, and was really encouraged after talking with these men.

What do you think of online community?

Is it real community?  Or is community only formed while sitting in the same room as the other person?