One of the ironies of 21st Century living is that while the champions of modern technology are constantly touting their ability to connect the world, in reality, the world is becoming more and more disconnected with each new patent. While it’s true we now have the ability to engage people across the globe with the click of a mouse, the sad truth is that our engagements tend to be superficial at best. The deep, personal connections we all long for are becoming scarcer as we’re able to do far more from the comfort of home than ever before. As Christians, our challenge is to recognize our deep human need for community, and to find it in our everchanging world.
Rob Beckley, lead singer for GRAMMY®- nominated rock band Pillar, knows the importance of community. Though Pillar’s travels take him far from his hometown of Tulsa, Okla., for extended periods of time, he has found a church (LifeChurch.tv) whose embrace of technology enables him to maintain a connection regardless of where he finds himself at any given time.
LifeChurch.tv is one church with 12 campuses in six different states. Each campus maintains its own staff but receives the same weekly teaching message from senior pastor Craig Groeschel or another teaching pastor via satellite.
LifeChurch.tv also has a large number of network churches that receive weekly messages. “When I’m traveling, and I know where some of these are, I’ve been able to hit up a few of the nationwide campuses,” says Rob. “However, if we’re nowhere near a campus, [they have] an Internet campus set up. They also have a Second Life [interactive] campus. There are so many opportunities for me to actually be involved with the same church. It’s like [an] extended family.” With so many options to stay plugged in while on the road, he adds, “There’s no excuse for me to miss church.”
Rob and his wife, Linda, have been at LifeChurch.tv for about four years. They love their church and pour themselves into it as they are able. Rob worked with the youth for a while. “I am horrible at any video game—they would kill me,” says Rob. “My wife works in the nursery every weekend. I do what I can.”
The church recently held a series called “At the Movies,” which related movies and their characters to the Bible. “We transformed the lobby into Star Wars. It was unbelievable how cool it was. We were in charge of Hoth, the ice planet—we spent 30 hours up there that week just doing our corner.”
In addition to serving as needed, the Beckleys are plugged into smaller life groups, which meet weekly. “I also have a men’s group that I started. We meet about once a month,” says Rob. “Sometimes there are things that guys will say to each other, hold each other accountable. Sometimes it’s harder to talk about [certain things] when you’re in there with six couples, and all the wives are there. We just felt like, to really develop into the leaders and the heads of households we’re supposed to be, that we should have a time of meeting with just the men.”
In addition to the life groups, Rob also stays connected with church leadership. “Rob and I have a great friendship,” says Tulsa campus pastor Chris Johnson. “We get to hang out when he is in town—go grab lunch together, or have coffee. He’s a great guy, has a great heart.” “He and his wife help out when they can. Pillar has actually done a free concert for our youth ministry.”
That personal connection with his pastor and others outside the band is crucial for Rob. “The biggest thing is just knowing somebody is there for you, no matter what you’re going through—good or bad. It’s really key for accountability as well, to have somebody outside ask, ‘How are things going on the bus? How [are] things on the road?’ They don’t want to hear any road excuses. Those are the type of things that make it unbelievably awesome for me.”
Johnston Moore is a screenwriter living in Long Beach, California. He and wife Terri are the parents of several adopted children.