Did I hear well? VR Church?!
Yes, you heard well. Many churches are currently using live-streaming in order to record their worship services in real-time online, but virtual reality is far more enabling than live-streaming, easily allowing churches to have global presence, foster diversity and inclusiveness.
Who brought this idea to reality?
It was a summer Friday in 2016, when D.J. Soto, the pastor of his local megachurch in Reading, Pennsylvania, and now, the pastor of the world’s first virtual reality church, visited the virtual world AltSpaceVR (social media platform for VR users and software startup company in Redwood City, California ). He is also the owner of Sonata 7 Studios, LLC. which is a film production and virtual reality company.
This platform (AltSpaceVR) has been allowing him to preach God’s Word around the world and to have a wider reach. He is looking to infuse faith into virtual reality, augmented reality, and next-generation technologies.
How does Soto’s project work?
To deliver his sermons, Soto uses a Google Oculus Rift headset and all you need to join in on the virtual reality church is a headset and AltSpaceVR. Soto’s church looks like any other churches, complete with pews, a podium for the pastor, and an image of the cross, the only difference being that it is projected from the screen of a computer.
What others have to say is…
In a 2015 Christian Post op-ed, Pastor Christopher Benek, who specializes in theology and technology, predicted that VR tech will benefit the physically disabled and others who are unable to be physically present at a worship service.
“The main impact that VR is going to have on the global church is that it is going to, one-day, enable Christians to easily gather from a variety of places without being in the same physical location. This will enable persons who are homebound, sick, caregivers, without transportation, on vacation, or severely disabled to participate in worship with the larger community of faith without needing to leave the place where they are physically residing,” he wrote.
All in all, why did D.J. Soto want to make the world’s first VR church?
Asked why did he choose to do this, D.J. Soto answered ” 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!”.