VR Church - A Brand New Use for VR

Updated: Jun 24

2020 marked a new, unprecedented level of isolation, forced onto us by a global pandemic. People used to interacting with co-workers, friends, and even family members daily have had to give up that interaction in favor of a less personal method of interaction via virtual communication over texting and video chatting. Given that telecommuting became so widely practiced during the pandemic, it’s no wonder that companies have looked to solve the drawbacks of telecommuting in new ways; just look at the myriad of VR workspace software that makes telecommuting more personal and more efficient.

However, working in an office is not the only social practice hit by the forced isolation of the pandemic. Hanging out with friends was already a solved issue prior to the pandemic, just look at VRChat, Bigscreen VR, or any number of other games that promote social interaction. An issue that has not already been solved, or hardly even thought of, is where churches lie in this new realm of virtual reality social interaction.

VR Church is an organization which looks to fill this void, by bringing Christian worship to virtual reality spaces. The primary goal of VR Church is just to celebrate “God’s love for the world” in the “metaverse,” bringing the Christian religion into new and otherwise unexplored spaces. The VR Church organization covers a range of platforms, primarily AltspaceVR, where the main church is located. VR Church also has events and organizations in VRChat, RecRoom, and Facebook Horizons. They even host events in Final Fantasy XIV and Rust as “MMO Church.”

In 2022, Goku is a Christian.

What I’m more interested in seeing, however, is how VR Church’s moderation works. Their Discord server is fairly large, at around a thousand members, but is still fairly small considering that VR Church is the biggest, if not only, religious space in VR. What happens when outsiders catch wind of this community? Will it be a repeat of World of Warcraft’s infamous funeral? Malicious pranksters ruining sacred online spaces is a tale as old as the internet, so it would be tragic – or funny, depending on who you ask – to see someone test the limits of VR Church’s moderation.

While the conversation about how technology relates to religion goes vastly beyond the scope of VR Church, it’s undeniably interesting that VR Church represents a new sort of social group being represented in VR. Is this the push needed to bring other social groups in VR? Will Boy Scouts of America hold future VR meetings? It’s hard to say whether or not this is a trend that will catch on, or how niche communities will influence the VR space as a whole. Regardless, religious or not, it’s refreshing to see a new use for VR, one that most people probably haven’t thought of.