Date of Award

12-2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Executive Leadership

First Supervisor

Frances Wills

Abstract

The study purposed to ascertain if the virtual church is a viable alternative to brick and mortar church; and uniquely tailored to virtual teleconference church. It delved into the perceptions of the elder population regarding the phenomenon of virtual church. The study also sought to determine whether there are obstacles in either physical or virtual churches that would impede spiritual growth and can be overcome. Suler’s analysis of virtual church attendee’s experiences guided this qualitative study and theoretical framework. The research was conducted through in-depth, semi-structured interviews consisting of open-ended questions. The questions explored the perceptions of elderly congregants of the virtual teleconference church to determine how the virtual church affects their spiritual growth, the participants’ reasons for choosing a virtual church, and the participant’s comparison of their virtual church experience with their participation in the conventional brick and mortar institution This study found that for the elderly in a virtual church environment (a) neither their denomination nor physical proximity were concerns, (b) there is connectivity with the virtual teleconference church, (c) interaction is important, (d) the virtual teleconference church is not necessarily a replacement for brick and mortar church, (e) the elderly acquiesce to a changing world. Recommendations for further research include surveying a broader field of participants in virtual church, such as the population below the age of 65, the incarcerated, ex-convicts and their families, the differently-abled, homebound, residents of nursing homes, rehabilitation and adult living facilities, hospice patients, and those who fear attending brick and mortar church.

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