Widespread Pushback After Judah Smith Debuts 'App Church'

Early this week Judah Smith, pastor of Churchome (formerly The City Church), took to social media to announce his church's "newest location": an app. Smith invited people to download Churchome's new app so they can view live church services on devices without leaving their home, even describing the app's "lobby" where "you can connect and meet people."

"People can actually build real, tactile relationships all over the world" using the app, Smith said.

Widespread pushback ensued from all across the theological spectrum. Here is just a smattering from Twitter:

Everybody’s dunking on the bad ecclesiology here - and they should - but let’s not miss the bad anthropology. This treats people as data points, product receptacles, not souls in need of communion.

— Jared C. Wilson (@jaredcwilson) November 7, 2018

This makes me uncomfortable. As a progressive Christian I am all for moving the church forward but I don’t see replacing the local church with a slick global platform as the answer. There are more issues with this but that’s the hot take.

— Tom Hagedon (@TOM_in_PHX) November 4, 2018

So basically what porn is to sex, this will be to the church?

— Sammy Rhodes (@sammyrhodes) November 7, 2018

Friends, ignore this clown and, as the late Eugene Peterson said, “Go to the nearest smallest church and commit yourself to being there for six months.”

— Cort Gatliff (@cortgatliff) November 6, 2018

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, NOT GIVING UP MEETING TOGETHER, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another —and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

-Hebrews 10:24-25

— Denny Burk (@DennyBurk) November 6, 2018

this is the exact opposite of what the church is supposed to be, judah.

— dylan (@dcrawley10) November 6, 2018

Pastor Smith, a challenge? Keep your app. Just don't call it a "church" or a "new location" or "new way of doing church." Jesus explicitly says he is present in the assembly (Matt. 18:20). The author of Hebrews says not to forsake assembling together. So, first, you don't want

— Jonathan Leeman (@JonathanLeeman) November 6, 2018

Tactile. Are you sure you know what that word means? Look it up. You can’t have a “tactile relationship” on an app.

— Brian Zahnd (@BrianZahnd) November 7, 2018

At some point we convinced ourselves that God really needs our relevance and in the process lost our rootedness.

— Dan White Jr. (@danwhitejr) November 6, 2018

Build "real, tactile relationships" through the "lobby" of the Church that you access through your phone so you don't ever have to leave your home to darken the door of an actual, physical location in your own community with people who could be your real-life neighbors...

— Derek Rishmawy (@DZRishmawy) November 6, 2018

Love to sell an app that absolves me of all pastoral care responsibilities and robs people of the administration of the sacraments and then call it a church

— Nathan White (@NPWhite717) November 6, 2018

all the tithes with none of the responsibilities

— drew™ (@acmills237) November 6, 2018

.@JonathanLeeman has a good thread on this. Others have made good statements as well. I haven’t downloaded the app, but I’ll make an educated guess that this app will allow you to send Judah Smith money.

— Brett Landry (@BrettLandry) November 6, 2018

Just when you thought Evangelical megachurch pastors couldn’t commodify the Gospel and the radical ecclesiology of Christianity any more than they already have.

— Cody Dean Bivins (@CodyBivins_) November 6, 2018

Ecclesiology is important. Unfortunately many pastors have LITERALLY never heard that word. Your phone cannot be your church.

— Ryan Welsh (@rcgwelsh) November 7, 2018

This is what happens when pragmatism is unhinged from biblical fidelity. This is not a church.

— Ryan (@ryanjohnson10) November 6, 2018

This is not church. And it encourages Christians to not join an actual church. Call it a resource, tool, etc, but for the actual literal love of God don’t call this a church

— Jacob Moore (@JaMo_17) November 6, 2018

Hillsong family network churches wanna connect with you alright. They wanna connect your bank account with their bottom line

— Rudy Ciprian (@RudyCip2087) November 6, 2018

I don’t think these words mean what you think they mean:
“Actual lobby”
“Actually build“

— Jeremy Pinnix (@jpinnix) November 6, 2018

"Church" that requires nothing of you, that you do not participate in and contribute to, is not church. This is a gross misunderstanding of what church is, and is an excellent example of why liturgy, tradition, and church history is so important.

— Cole Ryan (@colejryan) November 5, 2018

I feel like this is a joke.

I hope this is a joke.@judahsmith, you playin, right?

— Jeremy Burrage (@JeremyBurrage) November 6, 2018

You can't download the sacraments, or genuine fellowship, or elders who know you and your family.

— Shawn Paterson (@shawnpaterson) November 6, 2018

How is this app going to perform the sacraments?

It fails at the basic definition of a church, forgetting issues w/ its facade of fellowship & focus on content/experience. Its only possible function will be to keep believers/seekers out of real churches, making it condemnable.

— Nathan Kitchens (@nwkitchens) November 6, 2018

This isn’t church. This is ego.

— Aaron Halvorsen (@aaronmhalvorsen) November 6, 2018

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